Column: A mid-season international in 2019 for England is a must

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

England need to have a mid-season international next year, and it doesn’t matter who it is against.

Wayne Bennett’s side do not currently have a mid-season Test pencilled in as of yet, but it is hoped that they will play next June.

The Lions won’t be able to face New Zealand or Tonga because they are playing each other, while it obviously won’t be Australia because Origin is being played then.

Why don’t we turn our attention closer to home rather than the southern hemisphere?

Let’s play France in France. Yeah, it was a blowout score when the teams met at Leigh Sports Village in the autumn, but I don’t think it would be if it was played over there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think England would win, but I don’t think by a huge score, plus England going over to France would give rugby league a boost over there.

But people will probably disagree with me here because they think it wouldn’t be competitive. For some reason, rugby league seems to have this obsession where every single game has to be competitive which is bewildering.

In football, when England play the likes of San Marino, Faroe Islands and Moldova – everyone knows it is going to be a comfortable win for England. We don’t hear that it isn’t competitive, we just watch and enjoy.

And I would love for every rugby league game to be competitive, of course, but being realistic – it is just not going to happen so there is no point in going on about it all the time.

Or if England didn’t play France, what about a combined Celtic XIII? So, the team would be made up of players from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A combined Celtic XIII would certainly put up a test against England.

Remember the Exiles? What about bring them back? A potential Exiles XIII would be very dangerous and it would be better than it was before due to the marquee players in Super League now.

There are plenty of routes that England could go down in terms of arranging a mid-season Test for 2019. It doesn’t have to be against New Zealand or Australia.

But having a mid-season Test is very important for Wayne Bennett’s side. It’s not just about playing together, it’s about spending time off the field with each other and building up a good team spirit.

A team needs to be tight knit for it to be successful and a mid-season international would only help that. It doesn’t matter who the Test is against, but England need to play regular games and not just at the end of each year.