A few weeks ago I wrote of the farce that is the Rugby League World Cup in my “The Week That Was” column. The comments section was colourful to say the least.
The NRL and more importantly the State of Origin have to wear the blame for the state of international league.
I wrote then and still maintain that rugby league should be content with what it has, one of the greatest club competitions in the world and a pinnacle event that is the State of Origin.
The international scene is very much an afterthought, an attempt to give the game some international credibility when compared next to football and rugby.
The World Cup is an underfunded, under-promoted farce that genuinely does more damage than good to the international game in the eyes of all but the most hardened league fans.
The eligibility rules are farcical.
Players should have to nominate their national allegiances and play under those colours forever.
How can a competition be taken seriously when a player can change countries not only between World Cups but from one year to the next depending if you are selected for Australia or New Zealand.
How can a player like Junior Paulo be born in New Zealand, represent Samoa at the last Cup and yet this time be playing for the USA?
In the lead up to the 2008 World Cup, Canberra prop Brett White was named in both the Irish and Australian preliminary training squads at the same time.
Am I meant to believe that he is fully invested in playing for either country?
Petero Civoniceva is a perfect example.
No longer in contention for Australia, he is now offering his services to Fiji which is a great thing.
However now that his allegiance is with Fiji, his country of birth, it has to be asked; why wasn’t it always there?
The answer: State of Origin obviously.
How can someone like Jarryd Hayne pledge himself to play for Fiji last tournament and then with a straight face run out against them just last night?
How can I take the competition seriously when researching this article I look at the Italian team on the official World Cup website and six of the players have to have generic face outlines next to their names as no-one has bothered to source a picture?
The same goes for three of the Scottish players. How can I take the competition seriously if those organising the competition don’t?
I’m sorry rugby league but if you want me to take this joke of a tournament seriously you yourselves have to give the international game more than a passing thought once or twice a year.
One commenter on my last article asked “Are you trying to tell me that Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, French and Papua New Guinea league players don’t exist?” Well sir I’ll ask you, outside of this four week sham, do they?
Where are the Tests for Italy, Tonga, Fiji or Papua New Guinea building the game in the years between the World Cup?
When was the last time Samoa toured Australia in rugby league? Have they ever?
State of Origin has to shoulder a lot of the blame for the state of the International game.
It is the major attraction in the sport. A player cannot play in the State of Origin and not be available for Australia. So, either relax the eligibility rules for the State of Origin, or be more serious about the eligibility rules in the international game.
Of course Hayne, Akuila Uate, Petero Civoniceva and Brett White wanted to play State of Origin.
But, for all of them to have represented two countries in a short amount of time, being able to flick between the two depending on selection for Australia is making a mockery of the process.
When the Australian rugby league show countries like Fiji or Ireland that having the best players available for your biggest earner, State of Origin, is more important than a player’s national allegiance.
What is being to me as a fan, is that the representative pinnacle is State of Origin and I don’t need to tune in to representative football other than those three big Wednesday nights.
So rugby league the ball is your court. I’ll take the international game seriously when you do.