Dave Craven: Scrapping World Club Series would be missing the big picture for English game

North Queensland Cowboys Ethan Lowe, left, and Johnathan Thurston force Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley to the ground during last Sunday's World Club Challenge match at Headingley. Picture: PA.

North Queensland Cowboys Ethan Lowe, left, and Johnathan Thurston force Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley to the ground during last Sunday's World Club Challenge match at Headingley. Picture: PA.

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IS IT just me or am I missing something completely obvious with the whole ...

I started a column in the same manner just three weeks ago and have gone against one of the golden rules of journalism – avoid repetition or else.

Back then I thought I was missing something with the whole Wayne Bennett tale, his appointment as England’s new coach and the bizarre sense of antipathy towards that development from some angles.

Now I’m questioning myself once more just on a different but equally important subject – am I missing something with regards the World Club Series debate, too? In fairness, it is hardly a debate; English clubs got hammered again and, to many, there’s seemingly more chance of Wakefield getting a new ground by 2017 than there is of Super League ever enjoying a series success over their NRL rivals anytime soon.

With all the navel-gazing going on it’s almost like it’s the end of rugby league as we know it.

Let’s all take up tiddly-winks instead.

Admittedly, the scorelines were heavily lopsided again and it did make for painful viewing for St Helens, Wigan and Leeds fans, or just supporters of the sport here in general.

The aggregate score of 118-28 in favour of that gilded triumvirate of North Queensland Cowboys, Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters tells its own story, as does the fact that in the two years of the competition so far not one Super League side has prospered. So it’s 6-0 to the NRL.

However, I am staggered to hear the common consensus of people here urging that the whole concept should just, therefore, be disbanded without a second thought. What would the point of that be? To avoid embarrassing scorelines? To save face? And, best of all, to ‘concentrate’ on Super League and the national team.

How do people feel the national team is ever going to improve unless English players are exposed to the sort of opponent that Wigan, Leeds and Saints faced last week?

For me, Leeds might never beat the NRL champions again but the likes of Jordan Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe will have learned more in those 80 minutes against Johnathan Thurston than in eight games versus Salford, Hull KR, Widnes and the like.

Let’s remember, one of the big discussion points in recent years is the fact the England side has so few actual fixtures to play together during the course of 12 months and, therefore, it can be no surprise if they fail to reach Australia and New Zealand’s exacting standards when it matters most.

Those opportunities are few and far between and, let’s also not forget, the games designed to try and replicate those scenarios – the Exiles fixture for one, and, previously, the Yorkshire v Lancashire Origin re-birth – were never given time to develop, forgotten as soon as they appeared.

Now people want to forget the World Club Series, too, just because Super League didn’t win at the second attempt.

Short-termism and narrow-mindedness is ruining any chance of England ever getting back to the top of the international game. It makes you wonder if people are truly interested in the national side succeeding or prefer to live within themselves in a sub-standard domestic comp’.

There is plenty that needs fixing in the sport here, not least working out how to financially be able to keep the top stars in the competition, but let’s not make life even more difficult. Or am I just missing something ...

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