Tim Sheens believes English rugby league must find a way of combating the lure of the NRL and the power of the State of Origin arena.
The Hull KR coach is one of the most experienced coaches in the sport after spells with Penrith, Canberra, North Queensland, Wests Tigers, NSW and Australia. He was won four NRL grand finals in his career and led the Kangaroos to victory at the 2013 World Cup.
Asked about the state of rugby league in the UK, Sheens said: “It is a concern in this regard that the salary cap in Australia is headed to $10 million, if it doesn’t reach it this year then it will be close.
“The salary cap here is nowhere near that. The money in the game over there is attracting more and more players so it is a concern.
“In saying that I’m a newbie here, I’m not getting to get political about what should and shouldn’t happen here, I’m just concerned about the drain of player and the attraction of going to Australia to play at that level is also something that people should be concerned about.
“But the game here, I love the way the game’s played here. It’s played with the spirit of how rugby league should be played.
“But the major concern is the element of development and players staying in the country.”
“Obvioulsy England getting more representative football because they don’t play enough,” Sheens said.
“Australia has State of Origin, which is two Australian sides playing one another. They’re three Tests really in the middle of the year and they lift to a level when you get to Test football, if you can play State of Origin football you can play Test football.
“So they’re working 30 to 34 players a year who are already getting that opportunity every year, as well as the Test match mid-year.”
I know that’s why Wayne is called for a mid-year Test – there’s just not enough football played at that level by the boys here.”