I'm still unhappy with the "Exiles" name and would prefer "ANZAC XIII" or even "Other Nationalities. I don't like the "International Origin" title either because it most definitely is not an "International" or an "Origin" match. Despite these reservations, I thought the International Origin Match was reasonably entertaining although it seemed quite shallow and false but a reasonable crowd meant that it could be judged as a success.
As always happens in internationals, the play the balls were much slower than normal and I don't understand why this should be so. It produced a close scoreline and an exciting match but all the players involved are used to playing SL interpretations and this should have continued.
The Exile Dad Army were more committed than I expected and gave England the tough game they were looking for although the defeat will not impress our Australian and NZ opponents who will field much stronger (and younger teams) in the Four Nations.
There were positives for the English to take and they will be pleased with their defence and mental toughness. In the past English players have been guilty of being too adventurous, too early but this time they played sensibly conservative. Too often in the recent past English players have let their heads go down too easily especially after mistakes but this time they showed good levels of concentration. In cricket a batsman must play his way in before starting to attack which is also true in a RL Test match and England under Steve McNamara seemed to have learned this lesson
I was very disappointed with the lack of flair shown in attack. We desperately needed somebody run at the line and do something unpredictable but it didn't happen. Sam Tomkins is normally a great broken field runner and he played well in defence but did not get many opportunities with ball in hand.
The game was there for the taking with twenty minutes to go and I was looking for somebody to make a name for themselves but it didn't happen. In important international matches, we need heroes
We obviously need to match muscle with muscle but definitely will not beat Australia in at their own game. We need to out play and out think them.
We cannot continue playing people out of position e.g. Kevin Sinfield. I have been one of his biggest fans over the years and history will be kind to someone who led Leeds to three successive Grand Final wins. He is very unlucky not to have been made captain at international level and picked in his natural position more often. Unfortunately, Kevin is not a stand off, has not been playing well recently anyway and it showed.
I personally don't like the idea of picking players who have repeatedly failed at international level. Andy Farrell, Lyon Pryce and Paul Sculthorpe were picked and failed over and over again. Let's try something and somebody different. The Australians reward success and allow players to play themselves in and out of the international team. Tony Clubb scored four tries in the last match England played and was very unlucky not to be picked again.
We must pick players on form rather than reputation. Jamie Peacock has been another great player over the years but he has only recently returned from injury and should not have been picked. In fact, although in recent weeks the whole the Leeds team have looked like yesterdays men.
Jonny Lomax, Jamie Foster and Lee Gaskell are three form players who should have been given the chance to provide the unexpected
Will this match help us prepare for the Four Nations? Possibly but the reason why Australia are so successful at international level is the week in week out competitive nature of the NRL which produces battle hardened players in abundance.We must continue to try to emulate this.
I can understand why Steve McNamara is reluctant to play young, inexperienced players in big games which is why Great Britain should tour Australasia in June/July with a squad of thirty players. They should arrive two weeks before the first test match, acclimatise properly, play two matches a week and allow players to play themselves in and out of the team. This has been successful before because it allows us to gradually become competitive and to pick players on form.
Playing as Great Britain again will solve another problem.
Irishmen Chris Bridge and Mike MacIlorum played for England and recent Scottish Captain would surely have joined them if he hadn't been injured. I notice that Fiji's star player now participates in State of Origin and is thus ineligible for Fiji
We may laugh but can't really complain when our counterparts in the Southern Hemisphere refuse to see sense. If you can't beat them ...
I personally have no interest in State of Origin and find it typical of the parochial, inward looking attitude that hold us back but my fifteen year old son thinks it's great.
What do I know?