Nigel Wood says plan needed for other home nations and France but IRL “cannot be responsible for everything”

International Rugby League chief executive Nigel Wood says they need to work out how to develop local players in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France.

The lack of real competition for England in the northern hemisphere has been exposed by the growth of the Pacific Islands in recent years.

Speaking on the IRL Podcast, Wood said: “We should celebrate the success of the Pacific.

“We have to work out how to develop local players in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France to bolster the international game in the Northern Hemisphere, but nations have to take responsibility for their own performance. We cannot be responsible for everything.

“We are seeking to have at least eight fully-fledged contenders for every World Cup.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Wood also discussed neutral referees, plans for a proper international calendar and paid tribute to the RFL, NRL and NZRL.

He added: “International Rugby League has a strong relationship with all of our federations. We can attract new eyeballs and commercial interest which benefits the national federations and the professional competitions.

“We should pay tribute to the NRL, the RFL and the NZRL because in the absence of a powered-up international federation they took on responsibility for promoting international competition. There has to be a transition period and we are in that now.

“The grand puzzle currently has an international window in mid-season and one immediately after the two Grand Finals. We have to work collaboratively with the major leagues to achieve the optimum calendar. International Rugby League is good for players and for clubs.

The IRL is not established to manage national federations and has no wish to do so, however we spend a bit too much time in assisting the resolution of disputes in member nations. and it takes up valuable time to seek a resolution, but it is also an important function of a high-quality international federation.

“The reality is the IRL is quite young and has only had any full-time staff for the past four years – we are catching up with where we should be.”

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

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