Kilshaw: Better facilities and structures are key

Rochdale Hornets coach Alan Kilshaw believes English rugby league needs to invest in better facilities and development structures to try and bridge the gap with Australia.

Kilshaw spent three years coaching in Australia, serving as an assistant coach in the Queensland Cup and as head coach of the Sarina Crocodiles.

The NRL recently whitewashed Super League 3-0 in the World Club Series, following up from a 3-0 deficit in 2015.

“I don’t what people expect, what has changed in a year for it to be a different result?” Kilshaw told Love Rugby League.

“You can look at it last year and St George Illawarra wasn’t one of the best teams. They’ve brought the three best teams this time.”

Kilshaw coached North Queenland star Michael Morgan at the Mackay Cutters and used him as an example of how Australian clubs develop their players.

“The big factors are that they’ve got a lot more people playing rugby league than us, they’ve got more players, more structures and more in their squads,” he said.

“The money does help, but you look at somebody like Michael Morgan, who I had a little bit to do with at the Cutters.

“He struggled for two seasons in the Queensland Cup and the back-end of the second season when the Cutters won the comp he was just starting to come through then.

“He was really at the crossroads when Paul Green came in and then Lachlan Coote got injured, and then he’s had a rise.

“They can afford to be more patient with the players because they have got more money.

“Where as every squad player in England, all the money’s on the field basically. Grassroots, yes putting more money into that, but it needs to be facilities.

“The other thing we’re up against is the climate. Their kids will train outdoors. I know we’ve changed the community game to summer but they’re still training in January/February, we don’t have that much of a summer.

“Maybe the way forward is the indoor barns and things like that for the young kids and getting more playing there, investing in those types of facilities.

“When you’re up against a climate there’s nothing you can do to change that.”

Kilshaw said the breeding ground and the intensity of the Queensland Cup and NSW Cup competitions, as a help to produce talent, is hard to match.

“Another one in the Cowboys is Jake Granville,” he explained.

“He played three or four seasons at Wynnum Manly, he was contracted at Brisbane.

“Green had coached him and knew his qualities, and took a punt on him but again here he probably wouldn’t be full-time anymore and that’s the difference.

“Even if you play in Queensland Cup or NSW Cup over there you’re earning good money.

“You have got a job so you can take the time off to be in between semi and full-time professional.”

Kilshaw doesn’t believe raising the Super League salary cap would be the right answer.

“We’re one year into a new structure,” he said.

“The every minute matters, the Super Eights. That intensity of those competitions are going to get stronger.

“The national team’s getting stronger. Yes because half of them play in the NRL, but if you change the salary cap to win three games a year you’re going to make some clubs bust.

“The Hull KRs, the Castlefords, they’re not going to be able to compete. And we saw that last season, Hull KR got to Wembley, Castleford got there the year before, it’s a leveler playing field now.

“If there is pots of money put it into facilities at grassroots, put it into more full-time coaches who can go into schools.

“Coaching courses for junior coaches, try to get that because most coaches at junior level are somebody’s dad. It’s a volunteer.

“And you’re going to be lucky that the person’s dad is a good coach and is going to make you want to keep playing when it’s pissing down with rain or freezing.

“If there’s money available, put it into that, but I don’t think there is.”

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