Wayne Bennett and NRL based England players release statement on Denver Test

Drew Darbyshire

England coach Wayne Bennett and the English NRL players have released a statement in support of the mid-season Test against New Zealand in Denver going ahead.

Reports emerged in Australia over the weekend claiming a host of NRL clubs and the Rugby League Players Association were reluctant to let their star players feature in the historic Test.

According to Australian reports, several NRL sides and the RLPA were concerned about insurance issues for the travelling players as well as the high altitude of the game in the United States.

But the Rugby Football League has released a statement on the behalf of Bennett and the NRL based England internationals.

It read: “We would like to place on record our absolute support for the upcoming Rugby League International game between England and New Zealand, scheduled to be played in Denver in June.

“We believe that the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in Australia demonstrated the value of the international game to our sport. We all collectively said at the time that it was important we took the opportunity to try and grow the game globally and believe that this mid-season window provides the perfect opportunity for the sport to showcase itself to a new public in North America.

“Whilst we understand that there have been some concerns regarding player welfare, the England Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Brookes, has made it clear to us that he has no additional concerns with this game being played in Denver and the insurance that has now been put in place is more comprehensive than any other in the history of International Rugby League.

“We have spoken with our English based teammates who have received the full support of their Super League clubs and we are all in agreement that it is important that this game takes place.

“We are looking forward to meeting up as a squad in June and, if selected, walking out in Denver to take on New Zealand.”

Bennett, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Tom Burgess, James Graham, Chris Heighington, Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and Gareth Widdop have all signed the statement.