Oliver Gildart: It would be gutting if Ashes is axed

Oliver Gildart made his England debut in 2018Oliver Gildart made his England debut in 2018
Oliver Gildart made his England debut in 2018
Oliver Gildart admits it would be a “stinker” if England's series against Australia was scrapped.

The Rugby Football League is battling to save the series – with hopes taking a severe hammer blow yesterday.

The decision by the NRL to suspend its domestic season indefinitely due to the global coronavirus pandemic increases the likelihood that the eagerly-awaited Kangaroos tour in October and November will be cancelled.

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And England centre Gildart says he and his international team-mates will be gutted if that is the case.

“If the Ashes is cancelled, that would be a stinker,” he said.

“I’ve never played against Australia at senior level, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing.

“If the Ashes is cancelled it’d be tough to take for everyone, I think all the boys will be gutted.

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“But it’s mad what’s going on, you just know what’s going to happen, nobody has ever known anything like it.”

Gildart made his England debut in the series victory against New Zealand in 2018 and was on the Great Britain tour Down Under last year, injuring his shoulder in the opening Test.

He was one of the candidates due to meet new national boss Shaun Wane at Old Trafford yesterday – which also fell victim to the Covid-19 crisis. RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer admits the loss of the three Tests – which included a game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – would present a huge financial blow to the English game ahead of the 2021 World Cup in this country.

He effectively ruled out a series against other nationalities taking the place of the first Kangaroos tour since 2003.

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“I don’t think that would be feasible because, whatever restrictions apply to the Australians would similarly apply to most of the other teams willing to tour because many of those players would be enshrined within the NRL and UK competitions,” he said.

“At the moment, we’re aiming towards the Ashes. It’s hugely important to us and it’s there as an hors d’oeuvre to the World Cup in 2021.

“But nevertheless there are forces at work that are far greater at this moment in time.

“The game is under stress, the world is under stress, and we all have to acknowledge that times are changing and we have to give where necessary in order to make things work.

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“I don’t exactly know which one of the permutations it will be at the end of the year, it will be dependent on several other factors.”

Rimmer, meanwhile, says he is in frequent conversation with the government about support for the clubs and was due to update Super League bosses today.

The season is on hold until April 3 but that date is widely expected to be pushed back.