England star Sam Tomkins says he hopes there is a chance Australia and New Zealand will make a U-turn on their World Cup decision with enough pressure from the players.
World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton told a press conference on Thursday that the chances of the tournament going ahead in England this autumn are 50-50 following the withdrawals of Australia and New Zealand.
Tomkins says he hopes the player power Down Under will force Australia and New Zealand to make a U-turn, otherwise the World Cup won’t be the same.
He told SOM Talks podcast: “It quickly became apparent that its not actually a player-based decision this.
“For any player, playing for your country is the pinnacle and in a World Cup even more so. I’m sure there are a lot of players over there that want to be a part of this.
“Look at lots of other sports who are coming over from that side of the world – you’ve got people in Tokyo for the Olympics, you’ve got the All Blacks and the Australian rugby union coming over for the autumn internationals, it seems like it is a bit of a strange one. I’m hopeful it will get rectified.
“We are desperate for the World Cup to go ahead. I’m hoping it will change because I think if the World Cup goes ahead with Australia or New Zealand it won’t be the same but by the same token, we want to go ahead and compete.
“I think there is a chance they’ll do a U-turn with enough player pressure. We are in a sport where people at the top make the decisions but there is a lot of player power. In the NRL they’ve got a strong players’ union.”
— George (@georgeyboy) July 29, 2021
Talks are underway over Indigenous and Maori teams competing at the World Cup, Dutton has confirmed.
The USA and Serbia have made their interest known to participate after missing out in the qualifying stages, but Dutton would be open to teams representing the Indigenous All Stars and New Zealand Maoris to feature in the tournament.
Tomkins added: “I’ve read online that there is a possibility that a New Zealand Maori come or Indigenous team. There are ways around it to get the best Aussie or Kiwi players over here to play in the World Cup. However that looks, I don’t really care as long as we get the best players on the main stage.
“There have been a few pretty high-profile players coming out and saying they want to be a part of it. From a player’s point of view, that was obvious that was going to happen.
“If it was the other way round and we had the GB olympic team going over to Tokyo and England rugby union were going over there playing and e got told we weren’t, there would certainly be some fightback from players because it is a huge opportunity, so I knew that was always coming and I hope that comes strong and that it makes a difference.”
SOM Talks is the official podcast from award-winning mental health and fitness charity State of Mind Sport and is available on all major podcast platforms.