Wilkin calls for more teams to break the mould

St Helens forward Jon Wilkin is keen to see more teams in both Super League and the NRL adopt a more entertaining and less formulaic approach to attacking strategy.

While the NRL is generally regarded as being a much more structured and often attritional competition than Super League, Wilkin feels that very few teams in either competition show much originality in either attack or defence.

“I actually think that Super League‘s not far off what you’ve described there,” he told Love Rugby League.

“There’s only a handful of teams in the league who try and do things differently.

“We’ve got a Saints style, and we play that way regardless who we’re playing against.

“I think the NRL and Super League, attacking-wise, are relying on structure quite a lot.

“The NRL have got more athletes, which helps them play that style of rugby effectively.

“I think both competitions have become structured with the ball, and defensively also.

“It’s not just a problem for them in Australia, the challenge is to find an entertaining style of play that wins games consistently.

“There’s a really boring formula to win rugby matches. That’s a shame really.

“We need somebody to break the mould and come up with a different way of playing that’s an effective way to win games, and then other teams will follow it.

“That’s what happens.”

Wilkin also feels that the balance in player development has perhaps swung too far away from skills and thinking about the game, in favour of building superb generic athletes who happen to play rugby.

“You’ve got to have a gameplan that suits your personnel,” he said.

“Sticking with an attacking or a flair mentality when you haven’t got instinctive players in your team is difficult.

“There’s a real bigger challenge going on here where it’s athletic development versus tactical and skill development.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on athletic development with our guys.

“But it’s the skill, flair, understanding of situations and space, and managing that, that actually is a real area of concern.

“I see it with the kids who come through now. If anything, they’re athletically gifted beyond belief.

“But it’s actually the game that they struggle with. In days gone by, we had great rugby players who just couldn’t physically get it together.

“There’s got to be some kind of balance in that respect, to get the skill and tactical awareness alongside the athletic ability in the young guys too.”

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