Talking RL: Will Great Britain just be an England team by another name?

I, too, think it's great that Great Britain is returning.

Thursday, 11th May 2017, 12:27 pm
Updated Friday, 12th May 2017, 2:25 pm
Sean O'Loughlin playing in the last GB Test, in 2007

But before we shower the rugby league bosses with red, white and blue ticker-tape for making the decision, remember this: they are only correcting the game’s own mistake.

And it’s taken them 10 years to do it.

There was nothing wrong with GB (and Ireland) at the time. Little appetite to change to England, but they did it anyway.

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Anyway, I welcome its return, even as a one-off (the following year’s Kangaroos tour will be against England, not GB).

And the international calendar is looking a little brighter, even if, incredibly, Australia only have one Test in 2018.

I imagine those who were weaned on watching Great Britain, who have golden memories of many players and various Tests, will look forward to seeing them in action again.

But of course, the 2019 GB tour will effectively be an England tour by another name, and in different shirts, unless there are players from Wales, Scotland and Ireland included.

Wigan prop Ben Flower is an obvious candidate.

Fellow Welshman Regan Grace, too, if he continues his rapid development on St Helens’ wing.

But here’s a thought for you. Last year I was talking to Martin Gleeson about the possible return of Great Britain.

He, too, was against having Australians (who qualify) in the England side.

But he made this interesting point - the Aussies in the Scotland squad, like Euan Aitken, Kane Linnett and Lachlan Coote, came over to play in the Four Nations for peanuts.

They left their families and the sunshine for a month to come and play for the Bravehearts, and earned pocket-money for it. In doing so, they proved their loyalty to the Scotland cause.

Would those opposed to England choosing Aussie-born players soften their stance for Scotland’s Aussies in a GB squad?

Food for thought.

I was against the RFL streaming England’s Test against Samoa on their website.

I thought showcasing this marginalised sport to hundreds of thousands on the BBC – and making it accessible to fans who still like to watch TV on a TV, and not a laptop or tablet – would have been better.

But what do I know.

The RFL bosses disagreed, and decided to show the game themselves behind a pay-wall. And I’m guessing they were confident it would be a success, too, because when chief commercial officer Roger Draper – a Wiganer – was asked beforehand whether they would publish the revenue they made from streaming the game, as well as the BBC’s offer, he said: “Yep, for sure.”

So how many watched it?

How much money did the RFL generate from putting the game behind a paywall on its own website?

An RFL spokesman said that information isn’t being released “for commercial reasons”.


Catalans’ Mikael Simon received a caution for ‘deliberate or reckless physical contact with a match official’ at the weekend.

Yesterday, I read the charge sheet on the RFL’s website: “Player approaches referee to alert him to the injured player. Player puts hand on referee to attract attention of referee. Contact made is not forceful or aggressive...”

I’m all for respecting the referee, but any chance we can we have some common-sense, too?

Wigan may be doing it tough right now with missing personnel, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And the tunnel isn’t as long as some may think.

Everyone accepts injuries are inevitable in rugby league, but Wigan work to an average of three or four players missing a week – not 12 and above, as was the case last week.

This week, Sean O’Loughlin and Micky McIlorum are expected to be back in the frame after England duty and suspension respectively.

George Williams is either back this weekend or next, and just with those three players in key positions, Wigan will look in a lot better shape.

Thomas Leuluai will be returning soon, and hopefully it won’t be too long before John Bateman, Sam Tomkins and Oliver Gildart are drip-fed back into the side.

If they can weather this patch now, they will be in a solid position to kick-on... and their squad will be stronger for it.

New Zealand players Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor are in hot-water after allegedly buying cocaine during a drunken night out after their Test against Australia.

Their clubs, Melbourne and Gold Coast, are demanding why the NZRL allowed them to stay out until 5am.

“We expect (rep players) to be supervised while they’re away from the club environment,” said Gold Coast CEO Graham Annesley.

They are both 28. Bromwich is not only one of the world’s best props, but the captain.

Do the clubs want someone to check they’ve eaten their greens, too?!

I know a few fans who still reminisce about the days when London Broncos were not only in Super League, but in Brentford.

The annual trip down to the capital proved a great day out, allowing them to make the most of the ‘pub on every corner’ of Griffin Park.

Wigan enter unchartered waters on Sunday with an away game with Swinton - who play in Sale.

By chance, my brother Mike lives a Pat Richards drop-out distance away from their Heywood Road ground - for anyone interested in visiting a couple of the locals, he sent this guide:

The Little Bee is the nearest (30m away) and largest, with car parking spaces and lots on tap it should satisfy the taste of most. The Brook is a few hundred metres away, nestled away by the metro stop, a quirky little place good for those visiting by tram and with good outdoor tables.

The Brooklands Tap is a nice pub on Hope Road, probably 400m away. And into Sale, a kilometre away up the canal, there is the King’s Ransom which is well worth a visit with canal-side outdoor seating and spacious internal chambers.