Just like the X Factor, we were all quivering with anti........cipation and finally.......... it was announced, Widnes would be re-entering the Super League competition next season. We should all applaud this because it begins to rebalance the competition away from Yorkshire and back towards the former Lancashire Rugby League stronghold. Although they haven't got massive potential, Widnes have got good facilities, will get reasonable crowds and will be competitive on the field of play. Warrington are in the process of becoming a major Super League power and Widnes are their natural derby opponents. This is a major advantage in it's own right.
We should not applaud the decision (which apparently has been made) to abandon the mid season international against France and play an Exiles XIII instead. Although I can understand the need for England to play competitive matches in preparation for the Four Nations this is a step backward for International Rugby League. We should be doing everything we can to include and develop nations like France and Wales. It is good to see the RFL actually attempting some marketing with the "They're Coming" campaign but who will actually play for the Exiles? How motivated will they be? Will it make England more competitive anyway?
Yet again we have had big name players (who we assume will play for the Exiles) from the NRL coming to the UK and not performing. Hoffman, Lima and Finch have joined Clinton, Perry, Berrigan, Patton etc in proving themselves to be nothing special. Riddell, McGuire, Walker etc didn't set Super League on fire but can return to the NRL and not look out of place. We should have more confidence in ourselves and our competition. Castleford, Wigan, St Helens and others have proved that our youngsters are more than capable of competing anywhere in the world.
The Australians have a competitive State of Origin setup which toughens up their payers over a period of time. If we want to have a competitive International team we should resurrect Great Britain under our Lions banner and tour Australia for an Ashes Series during June/July when the players are fresh. We should take two teams, pick players on form, play two games a week and go at least two weeks before the first test to allow everyone time to acclimatise.
This would allow Danny Brough, Rhys Evans and Ben Harrison to continue (if they wish) to play for Scotland, Wales and Ireland respectively and fill in a big hole we have dug. The clubs wouldn't like it but RU and cricket play international matches during their club season. Why not Rugby League?