The excitement is palpable as we near the World Club Challenge. Or not.
I’m having second thoughts about the whole idea. Or let’s make that eighth thoughts.
And I’m not even talking about the daft idea to expand the thing. I’ve been in therapy on a weekly basis for 16 years, trying to expel Super League’s 1997 World Club Championship from my mind.
Nothing is working. For the record: Round two of the ‘competition’ featured the Hunter Mariners beating Paris 32-4 at Topper Stadium in front of an holographic crowd of 2,000.
But even the original, stand-alone game, which kicked off in 1987, seems a little worn at the seams.
Kevin Sinfield, responding to Australian scorn over his Golden Boot award for the world’s best international player, said that Aussies ”probably think they have the better competition”.
Um… not probably, Kev. The NRL is streets ahead of the English Super League- but how can we maintain that when most of the time our premiers head over to England in February and get rolled?
Let’s stop deluding ourselves. Australian premiership coaches have been treating this game as a slightly-important trial match for years.
Yes, most of the elite players play, but the NRL season hasn’t kicked off yet, players are not fully prepared and they’re also spending 413 hours on a plane.
Meanwhile, the English players are further into their playing year and an established routine and are all hopped up on a fully developed inferiority complex and a truckload of kippers (even with all that, Manly were dead-average in last year’s game and were still in it with 10 minutes to play).
This game has meaning for the English players, not to mention their club’s supporters. Which might be a good reason to keep it going.
I just can’t help the feeling that we either need to make it a more meaningful contest or just scrap it altogether and go back to the real English tour our elite players used to take and the fans love.
That of the Kangaroo variety.