ONCE upon a time, some of Australia’s best and biggest names were playing in Super League and a lot of people thought it would be a great idea for an all-stars team to play England.
Then the NRL got richer, the exchange rate went weaker, and fewer top overseas players arrived.
And that’s when the Exiles concept was introduced.
Two years too late.
It’s a shame the concept hasn’t taken off, because in theory it’s a good idea, and the inaugural match had plenty of promise. But the two matches last year sorely lacked intensity and the diminishing crowds were embarrassing. But then, what did organisers expect?
The Exiles idea was introduced because Wales and France couldn’t provide a decent enough level of competition. And last year, England finished the season with a tournament against Wales and France!
This year should be different. This year there’s a rugby league World Cup to build towards, so this Exiles match actually serves a purpose for the England players.
For Liam Farrell, especially, it’s a chance to prove his growing credentials on a bigger stage.
The Exiles game will never, ever, be like State of Origin – but that doesn’t mean Friday’s game shouldn’t be high-quality and worth watching.
I REMEMBER the first time I went to the doctor’s and the GP was younger than me. And the first time I saw a film re-make, which I remembered first time around (The Karate Kid).
But none of those made me feel as old as seeing Jason Robinson’s son playing for Wigan last Friday night!
It doesn’t seem two minutes since the end of last season and the subsequent parade that saw 30,000 people bring Wigan town centre to a temporary standstill.
But much has happened since then. Not least, the architect of that famous FA Cup triumph, Roberto Martinez, departing for Everton.
Dave Whelan is currently sifting through applications and interviewing the candidates to be his successor.
The Latics chief aims to make an appointment by the end of the week, mindful of the fact the new Championship campaign kicks off in just seven weeks’ time.
Although time is very much of the essence, he must also make sure he picks the right man, with so much at stake both in the short term and long term.
The appointment of the new man – the right man – will hopefully have a stabilising effect on that situation.
The new man will also have to move fast in the transfer market, with around a dozen new players required to bolster the squad to cover the departures from last term as well as the extra workload next term both domestically and in Europe. Get it right, and we’ll hopefully be discussing an imminent return to the Premier League.
The alternative, well, that doesn’t bear thinking about.
The Wigan Youth Zone will give the already-thriving sport scene in this area a huge boost, with facilities for children to enjoy and chances to try out new activities. Well done to all involved.