Super League clubs "concerned" by Wayne Bennett's remark about NRL star Ryan Sutton
Super League today hit back at national boss Wayne Bennett over comments he made about ex-Wigan prop Ryan Sutton.
Bennett yesterday said Sutton had "risen to the occasion" at Canberra and added: "If he was still here [in England] we wouldn't have seen the potential he has got. It just challenges them over there because the competition is so hard."
But Super League has issued a press release in which it criticises the suggestion that Sutton's chances of international selection are greater because is playing in the NRL.
It stated "clubs have expressed their concern" at the comments, saying they "appear to be in conflict with one its chief aims - to attract and retain the best players in the Super League competition".
Super League CEO Robert Elstone said: “Securing and retaining the world’s best players is a priority for Super League.
“Quite rightly - and even more so now as we are nearing discussions around a new broadcast deal - it is seen by our clubs as fundamental to the future success of the competition.
“While several of our leading players have excelled in the NRL and, in all likelihood, more will want to test themselves in that environment, it does feel wrong that the coach of our national team is linking a move to the NRL so closely to the award of international honours.
‘’None of us should lose sight of the fact that it is the Super League competition that has developed these players, and that all aspects of the game on this side of the world will benefit by them staying.”
The statement makes reference to the fact Bennett is also coach of South Sydney Rabbitohs. Yesterday, St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus expressed his concern about reports Bennett was using his trip to these shores to prepare for the Lions tour to try and sign Saints prop Luke Thompson.
“My view on it is that if there are any approaches to Luke then it is a complete abuse of power," he told The Mirror. “It’s something that we foresaw when Wayne Bennett was appointed English coach.
“You’re letting the fox into the chicken coop. This is a coach at an NRL club, not just an Australian who is coaching England as his full-time job. The RFL are paying him handsomely to coach our players, not poach our players."