Talking RL: Why World Club should be retained

Wigan Warriors' George Williams is tackled by Brisbane Broncos' Alex Glenn during the World Club Series
Wigan Warriors' George Williams is tackled by Brisbane Broncos' Alex Glenn during the World Club Series

A week ago, I stated I wanted all the Super League clubs to win in the World Club Series.

Genuinely, one die-hard fan called me a disgrace for backing St Helens and Leeds!

I wonder, with the future of the three-game concept now being questioned, whether he begrudgingly agreed with me.

Because I repeat what I’ve said before, the World Club Series is better than what we previously had.

I’d much rather Wigan play Brisbane than no-one from the NRL.

And judging by the crowd at the DW, and the interest around the game, I’m not alone.

It’s a good concept, and it’s a shame it seems to have been jeopardised by the one-sides scorelines.

There’s an urge to say Wigan were unlucky early on. Brisbane’s first try shouldn’t have been given, the second had a lucky bounce, and between them Micky McIlorum was stretchered off.

But it still felt like they were trying to plug a hole in the damn with their finger; a case of ‘how long can they hold out for’.

What the Aussie clubs served up wasn’t rocket-science. It was A-B-C simple - just done at breakneck speed and without many errors.

But I agree with Sean O’Loughlin’s sentiments; Super League shouldn’t walk away from the World Club concept.

Better to tackle its deficiencies then sweep them under the rug.

At Langtree Park on Friday night, Sydney Roosters halfback Jayden Nikorima was terrific. He wants to play for Australia.

Just 24 hours later, his brother Kodi Nikorima was terrific for Brisbane. He’s already played for New Zealand.

Any chance they have a younger brother who wants to play for England?

One more point on the World Club Series.

This argument “Super League clubs have an advantage because they’re into the season”.

True, they’ve had two games to work on combinations... but they’ve also had two games to pick up injuries!

While North Queensland were able to field the exact same side which won the Grand Final, Leeds had plenty of their best players on the sidelines.

I’m not suggesting it would have been a different outcome with the likes of Tom Briscoe, Carl Ablett and Danny McGuire, but it might have been closer.

Not an excuse, just a point.

Many better judges than me are predicting Wayne Bennett will enjoy success with England.

Let me be the first to say it’s going to be fun, too.

At his first press conference last week, it was obvious he doesn’t abide by the same ‘rules’ as most coaches.

He says what he thinks. He calls it as it is.

He keeps reporters on the toes... and journalists can’t simply cower away.

Last Thursday, the interviews were split into pods.

League Weekly’s Paul Bennett and myself took the lead on our table, taking it in turns asking questions like a finely-tuned tag-team, media’s equivalent of the British Bulldogs. After several minutes, the rhythm was broken when a radio reporter - who had previously sat in silence - cleared his throat.

Bennett turned to him and said: “Ah... you’re gonna ask a question, that’ll be good.

“I was gonna ask myself one for you.”

Brilliant.

On Bennett, one of his answers was widely overlooked but I’m intrigued to see how it pans out.

I asked him if he would consider Australian-born players who qualify for England, such as Leeds’ Adam Cuthbertson, who wanted to play last year but was overlooked by previous coach Steve McNamara.

It seems the Rangi Chase experiment in the World Cup had stung McNamara, who chose an entirely British-born squad for last November’s series win against New Zealand. Bennett says he will consider players who qualify for England, regardless of where they are born.

Will that be a sprinkling of players like Cuthbertson, who has an English parent?

Will that stretch to those with English grandparents (like Catalans’ Dave Taylor, who has already lodged an interest)?

And will it go as far as to include those Aussies who qualify on the ridiculous residency rule, having been here three years or longer (Salford winger Justin Carney, for example)?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Chirs Chester has been sacked by Hull KR after a poor start to the season. Discuss.

If you judge a coach by what he has to work with, then the loss to Warrington wasn’t bad - because the Wolves have a much better squad.

So maybe the other two games were shockers.

Except they weren’t.

Sure, a two-point loss to Wakefield wasn’t great - but they were missing their best players, Josh Mantellato and Terry Campese.

And in their other game, they got a draw with Castleford - a club with a better squad.

Someone suggested he was on borrowed time since the 50-0 hammering in the Challenge Cup Final.

But guiding the Robins to Wembley was an achievement in my book and, following that game last summer.

Hull KR won all their remaining matches to secure their Super League place this year.

I don’t know Chester - but his sacking certainly seems harsh.