Rugby league needs to learn lessons from rugby union if it is to have any realistic chance of growing the international game.
That’s the view of twice Grand Final winner and former Man of Steel Pat Richards, who believes the World Cup could be set to give the sport the boost it so desperately needs.
Speaking exclusively to the new Love Rugby League Podcast, Richards says league must not be too proud to learn important lessons from the rival code.
“I’m not a massive fan of rugby union but they do the international game a lot better than we do,” Richards said.
“Hopefully we can get there one day. The NRL is littered with proud Polynesian players so let’s try and get as many of them playing for those nations as possible.
“Australia, New Zealand and England will always be strong so let’s try and get those other nations up and hopefully in the next ten years we will see another team take out the World Cup which would be massive for the game.”
Pat Richards on the upcoming Rugby League World Cup
The former Wigan winger, who also won an NRL Grand Final with Wests Tigers, believes this autumn’s World Cup could prove to be the most competitive ever because of the breakthrough in players opting to represent their nations of heritage.
“It’s probably the first World Cup with so many nations with a chance of winning it,” he said.
“New Zealand are outstanding, their spine is unbelievable, Joey Manu from the Roosters, Dylan Brown from the Eels, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith from the Storm. That spine is as good as any in the world.
“England will be there or thereabouts, Tonga and Samoa have a genuine chance and Ireland are in there too. I was lucky enough to play in two World Cups and was very proud to represent Ireland for my mum and dad.
“Ireland will have a lot of pride in that green jersey but they have it tough. They will give themselves a chance against Lebanon and Jamaica. Hopefully the side can come together and put in good performances against those two.
“England will be strong at home under Waney (Shaun Wane) so it is not an out an out choice between Australia and New Zealand. Normally, I would say Australia for sure but this time let’s see what happens.”