Warriors back ‘all-stars’ concept

MICHAEL Maguire has thrown his support behind a proposed mid-season match between England and an all-stars team drawn from Super League’s overseas players.

He reckons the fixture – revealed by national boss Steve McNamara last Friday – would help the English better prepare for their tussles against Australia and New Zealand in the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.

The idea has already captured the imagination of fans, with the prospect of seeing Wigan’s Pat Richards, Ryan Hoffman and Thomas Leuluai linking up with the likes other top stars from Down Under such as Matt King (Warrington), Willie Mason (Hull KR), Luke Patten (Salford) and Danny Buderus (Leeds).

Man of Steel Richards and new recruit Hoffman have given their backing to the concept, which will replace the annual mid-season international against France on the second weekend of June.

And Maguire believes the idea – which has been agreed by the clubs but has yet to be ratified by the RFL – has its merits.

He said: “It’s all about helping the game over here and if it does that, then great.

“England are obviously trying to find more intense opposition.

“New Zealand and Australia play each other mid-season in the Anzac Test, and the Australian players are involved in the State of Origin series, and if this game helps England achieve a similar level of competition, then it can only be a good thing.”

Richards threw his support behind the idea.

“It’d be good for England, but I also think it would be good for the overseas players over here to give us something to aim for,” he said.

“With the quality of players over here, I reckon it’d be a good spectacle, a tough game and it would attract a fair crowd.”

Hoffman, one of three of Wigan’s recruits from Melbourne, reckons the overseas players involved would take it very seriously.

“I’m sure it would be a very competitive game, and anything that helps international rugby league I think is a good idea,” he said.

“If I had a chance to play in a match of this nature, I’d take it very seriously and see it as a great honour.”

The Wigan players who took part in last year’s Four Nations for England – Stuart Fielden, Sean O’Loughlin, Darrell Goulding, Joel and Sam Tomkins – and the rest of the squad met with McNamara last week, when the coach outlined details of three two-day camps during the season.