Simply not good enough

It’s a disappointed, disgruntled and dismayed blog this week. I can only echo those comments made by Australian coach Ricky Stuart, following England’s poor showing in Brisbane against New Zealand.nnThe current Cronulla Sharks coach believes England have gone backwards in recent years.nnMost fans – like me – would have regarded this year as England’s best chance of winning the World Cup since our last victory back in 1972.nnBut as per usual, in typical England fashion some players failed to show what they could do. I am not going to target individual players in the game – they know who they are and what they have done.nnIs it Tony Smith’s fault? Yes. Is it the RFL’s fault? Yes. Is it the clubs’ fault? Yes. All people involved in the game within the Engage Super League are at liability for England’s shocking displays.nnPut it this way, three weeks ago I wrote that England’s average performance against Papua New Guinea was just their way of adjusting to a different competition, the rough and tumble of a physical game and the humid heats in Townsville.nnBut what explanation can we give for the less-than-impressive defeats we have had succeeding that victory?nnFirst and foremost, we have to look at Tony Smith’s selection process. He stated he would look to freshen things up in the England camp and move away from the usual selection of picking from the big clubs.nnSo why did we end up with people such as Paul Sykes and Mark Calderwood in the squad, when they have not justified their positions throughout the season savour for one game in Calderwood’s case.nnBut Stuart’s comments add another dimension to the argument.nn”After what I have witnessed over the past month from England, the international game has suffered terribly,” he said.nn”The top-end product, their national side, has been disadvantaged by the scramble from Super League owners, coaches and managers to ensure their own individual success.nn”Since the last World Cup (in 2000), England have gone backwards. There’s really no denying it and it’s difficult to see any improvement at the elite level while clubs persist in raiding Australia and New Zealand for talent.”nnStuart is entirely correct. The RFL brought in rules regarding the quota and the number of home-grown players only to completely relax the rules because a few Australian and New Zealand players may become unemployed.nnWhy are they so frightened? Surely if they cannot find another club in the UK with the alloted space, or back home in NRL then that says something. Put it this way, what makes a player not good enough for an NRL club, good enough to play in our premier division?nnWhile I understand the relaxation to those born in the country and on great servants to the game such as Stanley Gene, who has played at the top level of the game for many a year – about 70 years, in fact – we should not allow those Aussies only over here for a quick dime-making process, to diminish the chances of good quality English youth prospects making an impact.nnThankfully, some clubs recognise this. The wealth of talent the likes of St Helens and Leeds are bringing through is a godsend to the future of English rugby league.nnShame some other clubs rely on second-rate Aussie imports to top up their average English players.nnThe sport needs an whole revamp from top to bottom in preparation for next year’s tests and the World Cup in four years time.nnThis can be done by the RFL enforcing rules properly and stop chopping and changing because some clubs keep pressuring them.nnCurrently, there’s only one statement to make: We are not good enough!

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