Scully Warns Against Player Burnout


Sculthorpe insists that it doesn’t matter who takes charge of Great Britain – who won just one game in last aumtumn’s Gillette Tri-Nations series – if top players continue having to play as many as forty games every season.

"Shaun is a great bloke and is great to work for, he's got good knowledge of the game and he's available," he said. "But it doesn't matter who is in charge if we're playing forty games in a season and expected to finish it strongly."

"You are not going to get the best out of players unless you cut down the number of games they are being asked to play. We've shown we can beat Australia and New Zealand but it is not a level playing field at the moment."

Sculthorpe was named captain of Great Britain after Andy Farrell’s switch to rugby union, but was injured for both this year’s and last year’s Tri-Nations tournaments.

Top players will play a minimum of 28 engage Super League games (27 from this season), and could also play in four play-off games, four Carnegie Challenge Cup ties, possibly the World Club Challenge and a mid-season international.

Their Australian counterparts play in 24 NRL Telstra Premiership games, plus play-offs, the three-game State of Origin series and the annual Anzac Day test against New Zealand.

"We play too many games and the RFL needs to cut the number we play if they want Great Britain to do well," added Sculthorpe.

"Until that happens, we will continue to find it hard because the new coach won't have enough access to the players and the players will continue to struggle at the end of a long season."
The decision to make the Great Britain coach’s job full-time ended the reign of Brian Noble whose priorities lie with Wigan Warriors, and Shaun McRae emerged as favourite following his departure from South Sydney Rabbitohs earlier in the week.

However, many observers, including Garry Schofield, feel it would be wrong to appoint an Australian to the job, but Sculthorpe does not feel that nationality is as important as appointing the best coach possible.

"It's about winning and finding the right man for the job," he said. "It doesn't matter where he comes from."

British coaches such as Paul Cullen, Karl Harrison and Jon Sharp have all been mentioned in connection with the head coach’s job, yet would have to give up their current jobs at the head of Super League clubs.

The Lions’ next fixture will be a mid-season international against opponents not yet decided upon, with an Other Nationalities XIII or France both possibilities, followed by the New Zealand ‘All-Golds’ tour in the autumn.