England needs its Brough diamond

Heard the one about an Englishman, a Scotsman and a Kiwi? Me too – and it isn’t funny.

Steve McNamara was at Headingley on Friday night, shivering just a few rows in front of the press box as Danny Brough tore Leeds to pieces.

Over at the KC Stadium, Rangi Chase was in a Castleford side getting slapped silly.

Guess which one’s playing for England at the World Cup?

Of course, it wasn’t Chase’s fault Castleford were smashed 52-0. That was a collective effort.

But it was all Brough’s doing that Huddersfield won 32-8 against the reigning champions.

Brough laid on three tries with brilliantly placed kicks, then scored his own to cap a remarkable effort.

“Danny’s kicking game was key,” admitted Rhinos boss Brian McDermott afterwards. “It’s not the first time he’s done that.”

Whether Brough knew of McNamara’s presence or not, his performance was a stark reminder of what England are missing. It was a master-class in craft, guile, support play and kicking.

Giants boss Paul Anderson said: “He’d be in my (England) team, but it’s not my squad to pick. What I am happy about is that he’s in my Huddersfield team. I’d sooner have him than not have him.”

Instead, Brough is now likely to join Scotland and face Tonga, Italy and USA at the game’s showpiece.

I’ve no moral issues over New Zealand-born Chase playing for England. My only concern is whether he offers enough – when he’s up against the Aussies in a World Cup final – to see us home. I think we’ve more chance with Brough.

In 2011, when Chase won Man of Steel and was at the peak of his powers, his combination with Kevin Sinfield looked solid – but that was it.

It rarely looked exciting, and against the Kangaroos at both Wembley and Elland Road it certainly didn’t look threatening.

Since then, Chase’s form has dropped off. Gareth Widdop has got another season in the NRL under his belt, Danny McGuire remains consistently good value and Brough has the skills we’d all like to see in an England team.

Having given him the captaincy, Kevin Sinfield is an immovable object at stand-off. The question is simply who will partner him?

We spent a decade dropping an enormous clanger by ignoring Lee Briers. Isn’t the idea of studying history to learn from our mistakes?

I suddenly know how it feels to be Homer Simpson.

He famously shapes his own groove on the sofa after spending too much time in front of the goggle box.

From Thursday to Monday, you could have watched 11 full games of rugby league on TV. It’s the same for the rest of the season.

One Championship fixture, two from Super League and all eight from the NRL: gorge yourself silly folks, we’ve got ourselves a feast.

And that’s before you even consider Sky’s magazine programmes or the BBC’s Super League show.

I know from personal experience how rugby league still struggles in the print media. But when it comes to television, we’ve never had it so good.

Who are your dream England half-backs? Drop them in the comments box below.

You can also follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough

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