Barrie McDermott insists there is still a place for the Great Britain Lions in rugby league.
In 2006, the Rugby Football League announced that after the 2007 All Golds Tour the Lions would no longer play on a regular basis, and instead, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland would compete individually on the international stage.
But the Lions were revived in 2019, when Wayne Bennett’s side embarked on a tour of the southern hemisphere.
It wasn’t the fairytale return for Great Britain though as they failed to win a single game on the tour, having played New Zealand twice, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
McDermott, who won 15 caps for Great Britain and 15 for Ireland, believes rugby league can’t afford to lose the Lions as a brand and that the concept should remain.
“We didn’t give it enough time for it to gain momentum,” McDermott told Love Rugby League.
“I understand that the Great Britain tour was not quite what it should have been but that doesn’t mean you should just throw it away.
“I’d like to see us get to a point where somebody like Morgan Knowles doesn’t feel the need to swap from Wales to England because there is another tier for him to go at and that is the Great Britain team.
“Great Britain is a brand that rugby league is synonymous with. We need to reinvest in time and effort to get some long-term gains. It is not about the next two or three years, it is about the next 15 or 20 years.”
McDermott, who played for Ireland at the 2000 World Cup, believes a Lions tour every four years would be the way forward.
That way, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland could still play individually and then come together as one like the British and Irish Lions in rugby union.
“If you are saying that Great Britain isn’t the correct direction, you want to speak to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and put something in every four years,” McDermott added.
“I am huge fan of the rugby union British and Irish Lions, I always have been. I have been since 1997 when they went to South Africa and there were people like Scott Quinnell, Scott Gibbs, John Bentley and Alan Tait for that particular tour and they became a cornerstone of it.
“I’ve always had an envy of what they do but I don’t think its beyond us to look at what they do and try and learn from that and do our own version of that.”
England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland will compete at the Rugby League World Cup this autumn, which gets underway on October 23.