Wigan Warriors coach calls for Super League State of Origin return

Ben Olawumi
Tyler Dupree, Matt Peet

Wigan Warriors boss Matt Peet has weighed in on the desperate situation international rugby league finds itself in

Wigan Warriors boss Matt Peet has called on the powers that be to resurrect the ‘Lancashire v Yorkshire’ State of Origin-style games to aid the seemingly desperate situation representative rugby league in the Northern Hemisphere finds itself in.

Four of Peet’s Warriors players featured for Shaun Wane’s England side as they beat France 40-8 in Toulouse last Saturday – Harry Smith, Tyler Dupree, Brad O’Neill & Luke Thompson.

Additionally, Tiaki Chan – who has spent time out on loan at Hull FC – was in Laurent Frayssinous’ France squad.

But what should have been a spectacle never was going to be. The game wasn’t broadcast on television, solely on Super League+, and clashed directly with a UEFA EURO 2024 game.

Added to that, just 4,500 spectators watched the game in person at Toulouse’s Stade Ernest-Wallon. More than that turned up to watch the Championship clash which followed between Olympique and Featherstone Rovers.

READ NEXT: St Helens coach Paul Wellens calls on authorities to ‘get a grip’ on international game amidst England fallout

Wigan Warriors coach Matt Peet calls for Super League State of Origin return amid international fallout

The fallout from last Saturday’s event, rather than the game itself, has not been pretty. Plenty of supporters, media outlets – including ourselves – and Super League coaches have had their say.

And in his press conference looking ahead to Wigan’s Round 16 clash against Leigh Leopards, Warriors boss Peet had his, suggesting that the Origin-style games may well be the way to go.

Tom Johnstone, Jack Welsby and Sam Wood
England players celebrate a try against France in the 2024 mid-season international in Toulouse

He said: “I think we’re all honest enough to know it’s not what we want to see when we’re watching international games.

“When these players have worked to reach what is the pinnacle of the sport, you want them to be playing in front of big crowds on television. When that doesn’t happen, you’re disappointed for the players more than anything.

“I know we’ve committed to games against France at the moment, and once we do that, I think it’s important that we stick to it.

“But I would like to see Lancashire v Yorkshire revitalised and given another go. A stepping stone towards an England shirt would be great for more players and I think you could get more coaches involved.

“The fact is, we took a game to France and the supporters didn’t come out for whatever reason.

“I personally would like to see Lancashire v Yorkshire, but I also understand that there’s reasons why I’m in my job and people are in other jobs.”

LRL RECOMMENDS: A Five Nations, A smaller Super League calendar, Encouraging heritage representation – Our plan to save international rugby league

‘Our lads would want to play and I’m sure some of our staff would be involved’

Peet has given the players involved in last Saturday’s clash in Toulouse an extra day off the Warriors’ training schedule this week, with most of them not in action in their last game prior to the break – a 36-0 thumping of bottom club London Broncos.

He continued: “We don’t make a habit of pulling lads out of international (games), and I don’t see why that would be any different (Lancashire v Yorkshire), not as long as it’s a free weekend.

Ethan Havard, England
Wigan Warriors’ Ethan Havard crossing for a try on his England debut against France in 2023

“Our lads would want to play and I’m sure some of our staff would be involved. That’s the other thing, it becomes a pathway not just for players, but for staff that are involved as well.

“More coaches would get a taste of that representative action then.

“I feel like you could potentially plan it with games at under 21s, 18s, 16s and the women as well.

“This is just me talking more as a fan, and it’s just one idea, but it’s certainly something that needs some attention.”

READ NEXT: Every major rugby league nation’s next fixture including several with no game planned at all

‘We all want to see representative rugby league on the best stage… it certainly needs looking at’

England head coach Wane remains involved at Wigan today – combining his international responsibilities with that as a position as ‘Leadership & Management Director’ at club level.

Accordingly, Peet and his staff get to see Wane more than most, and the Warriors boss admits the state of the international game at the moment is one which frustrates everyone involved.

He added: “Everyone I speak to within our club shares that frustration.

Matt Peet, Shaun Wane
Wigan Warriors boss Matt Peet shares an embrace with the club’s Leadership & Management Director Shaun Wane after a game in 2024

“It’s for the owners, the CEOs and people at board level to try and impact that, and work with the RFL to see what more we can do.

“Waney’s a close friend, as are quite a few of the staff from the England set up, and we all want the same thing, don’t we?

“We all want to see England or international rugby league or representative rugby league on the best stage it can be.

“How we get there, that’s for the administrators of the game – on both sides of the world – to work together and sort out.

“It certainly needs looking at.”

LRL RECOMMENDS: Who would win a Super League State of Origin in 2024 – Lancashire or Yorkshire?