More England players to move Down Under, says Colquitt

Former St Helens chief executive Tony Colquitt believes more English players will move over to the NRL, when the salary cap in Australia increases in 2014.

A new five-year TV deal worth more than one billion Australian dollars (approx £650m) was announced recently, and subsequently the salary cap is set to increase from its current level of around $3m (£2m) to a reported $9m (£6m).

This could tempt not only the finest players Super League has to offer, but also high profile players from rugby union.

Writing in his Running Rugby column, Colquitt said: “I believe it’s a great deal for the entire rugby league world. The NRL is now the English Premier League of the rugby game. Its profile, players and standard of play make it a fantastic global advertising platform for the 13 aside code.

“One clear beneficiary to this likely exodus will be to the England National team. The success of the New Zealand team in recent years is in no small part down to the fact that the vast majority of their players perform in the high intensity of the NRL. The current England team already features around 5/6 players who play in the NRL and that number may be doubling in size pretty soon.

“Rugby League in the UK can be envious, but it needs to focus on its own product. Many famous brands have shown that with a little creativity and determination they can survive and prosper in the shadow of a dominant brand. The new TV deal for the NRL is great news for the game of Rugby League.”

The likes of Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and James Graham already ply their trade Down Under, and with the likes of Gareth Widdop, Jack Reed and Chris Heighington also regulars in the England set-up, it might not be too far in to the future where virtually the full national team is drawn from players playing abroad.

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