The Australian back-row played in the inaugural Exiles game in 2011, helping the representative side – made up of overseas stars playing in Super League – to a famous 16-12 win over England at Headingley.
However, it was not classed as a full international (the England players did not receive caps) and neither were the two games the following year or the final outing in 2013.
Nevertheless, International Rugby League has established a History and Heritage Group to agree and compile – for the first time – an official list of recognised senior international matches, initially in the men’s game.
It will include more than 1,600 fixtures played across the world since 1904 and it is planned to be published in March. At this point, it is unclear whether the England v Exiles games will be part of the exhaustive list which has been scaled down from almost 2,000 matches examined.
But Morrison, who had such an impact for Bradford from 2007 to 2009 after joining from Parramatta Eels and then spent two excellent campaigns at Belle Vue, feels the Exiles matches are just the sort of fixtures that should come under consideration for a reclassification.
“We knew going in it wasn’t England versus Australia– a country v a country: it was England versus a mix of nationalities,” he recalled, being a Trinity player at the time.
“So, we realised it wasn’t going to be an official Test match but – for an international cap – I feel 100 per cent it deserved it.
“We played it like a full-on international, the results showed they were tight games and nobody was taking it as a muck-around or a friendly. Nobody gave us much of a chance so we went into camp and took it full on to knock off England which we did.
“I definitely feel, for those who have played in those games, on both sides, it should warrant an international cap.”
Morrison lined up alongside Kangaroos stars such as Leeds Rhinos hooker Danny Buderus and Hull FC duo Craig Fitzgibbon and Mark O’Meley in 2011, along with Kiwis Sia Soliola, Tony Puletua and Thomas Leuluai.
He retired the following year but worked on the Exiles coaching staff in a series that finished 1-1 before the last game was a one-off 30-10 England victory at Warrington in 2013.
Current England coach Shaun Wane hopes to see the concept revived with a game against the Exiles in June and ex-Dewsbury Rams boss Morrison – now working as head of athletics at Bradford Grammar and coaching rugby at Bradford Salem RU – remains a firm fan of its virtues.
“When I was on the staff of the Exiles, we spoke about giving them cap numbers and moving forward that would continue on,” said the 44-year-old,
“Whoever was No1 in that first game (Brett Hodgson) would get official Exiles No1 forever and then add to it like that. But after that third year, it didn’t continue which was disappointing.
“For everyone who put that Exiles jersey on, though, we were like a family; everyone bonded and we all had the same outcome in mind – we wanted to go in there and beat England like in any international you play.
“In the first one they said we were all old, over-the-hill players and nobody gave us much chance so it was all the motivation we needed.”
Morrison would “love” to see the Exiles return this summer.
“As we saw with State of Origin, it doesn’t happen overnight but they stuck with it and now it’s one of the biggest games in the world,” he added.
“It would take some beating to beat that but if they stick with it, I’d love to see it come back here and build some momentum, get it so people do look forward to it every year as an international especially to help England out.”
The History and Heritage Group says it has examined every “international” and representative game, applying in the first place the current criteria that would allow a match to be sanctioned then considering the criteria that would have prevailed at the time before making a final decision.
IRL secretary general Danny Kazandjian said: “This has been a mammoth task but a vital part of our sport’s history. We have collaborated with experts from across the world on the group and also sought expert opinion from elsewhere on specific matches.
“I would like to pay tribute and thank Professor Tony Collins, Neil Ormston (RL Record Keepers’ Club), Andrew Ferguson (Rugby League Project) and Tas Baitieri for their ongoing input.
“Following publication of this initial list we will move onto the women’s and wheelchair disciplines to ensure a full and clear picture.”
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