RLWC2021: Domestic bans to continue into tournament 

Josh McAllister

International players will have to be extra careful heading into the finals stages of the season with suspensions from the domestic Super League campaign to continue into the RLWC2021 tournament.

If the suspended Korbin Sims was to put his hand up for one final World Cup, it means he will miss the warm-up match against England at the AJ Bell Stadium and then the first group game if selected.

The 30-year-old has of course confirmed his retirement from the sport. However, he has been included in Fiji’s extended squad ahead of the tournament by head coach Joe Rabele alongside brother Tariq.

Rhyse Martin could be impacted if Leeds cannot progress beyond the eliminators against Catalans this Friday. While not confirmed, it could mean he misses Papua New Guinea’s warm-up clash against Australia’s Prime Minister’s XIII – although, it would seem unlikely to travel to Australia for that one game before returning to England for the tournament.

The Super League play-offs will include a range of international stars across the next three weeks. It means those players will have to be extra careful in the all or nothing ties in order to remain available for their possible World Cup campaigns.

RLWC2021 withdrawals

Three more stars have been ruled out of the World Cup this week.

England’s Gareth Widdop announced his international retirement on Wednesday night.

The 33-year-old half-back scored a total of 171 points in his 28 appearances since making his debut as a 21-year-old against France in 2010.

Meanwhile, full-back Kalyn Ponga has made himself unavailable to Mal Meninga for Australia’s campaign. Instead, the 24-year-old says he wants to focus on a full pre-season with NRL club Newcastle Knights.

Ponga’s Knights team-mate Bradman Best had been lined up to play for Wales, but instead is being booked in for an operation to fix a long-standing arm injury.

With this year’s hectic schedule, it would be no surprise to see more players withdraw before the tournament kicks-off on October 15.

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