Calls for more internationals between home nations amid Exiles revival talk

Kear says he is close to unveiling opponents for a World Cup warm-up match in June after a request to play England in mid-season fell on deaf ears.

The Rugby Football League is expected to confirm the return of the Exiles, a Super League-based team of overseas stars, for a fixture with England during the international window on the weekend of June 26.

Kear said: “On the one hand, I understand why England want to play the Exiles because Shaun Wane is looking at it from a performance point of view.

“I’ve spoken to him personally about it and I know John Kear (who is no relation to Gareth) did as well to say we feel we’re at the point now where we’re going through a transition and getting stronger and we feel we can give them a meaningful game.”

After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out virtually all international rugby league last year, including the 2020 European Championship, a mid-season programme is imperative ahead of the World Cup but Kear would like to see it become an annual event.

With the strengthening of the international game in the southern hemisphere due to the growing depth of the Tonga and Samoa teams, Kear is worried the northern hemisphere is in danger of being left behind.

Kear said: “We’ll fight tooth and nail to maintain the international weekend.

“If we’re going to grow the game in the northern hemisphere, then we have to have meaningful games for England against Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France and the only way you do that is by playing these games.

“I think the RFL and Super League are starting to realise that a strong Wales – and a strong Scotland – means a stronger England.”

Wales, who have not played since 2018, will face the might of the southern hemisphere in the World Cup, having been drawn in a group with Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.

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