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That's right - although we still had plenty of top class imports for at least ten years after that - especially Kiwis. The favourable tax situation and exchange rate meant that players could still be attracted before their pensionable years (although often later in their careers, I accept).
I think the problem here is that because FC have had a bad year and lost a couple of their many talented youngsters, it lessens the pain for DSK to lump them in with his own, unappealing car crash of a club.
Once Super League started the better players that were still in their prime and Test candidates certainly dropped off, the only ones I can think of off the top of my head were players that were locked out of the NRL like Jamie Lyon or in Matt King's case says he was on "Mad Money" in England for a winger / centre
I am sure there were others but as you say most were on the way down or were chasing longer lucrative deals in England that were not on offer in the NRL.
You are right about the Kiwis, they used to seemed to gravitate to English Clubs in their prime and in most cases have done really well.
Hull FC seem to have a bad year every year for a club that considers itself a big club and a contender year on year but averages around 7th place for the last 10 years.
I don't think that players like Crooks, Hodgson etc. (or even our elite lads like Burgess, Tomkins etc.) want to go to NRL per se. Or rather, they do but only because it's clearly the world's elite RL competition and the best way for them to further their RL careers. Given better conditions I think all of them would happily play their careers out in the UK. They go where the action (and the money) is and fair play to them.
By contrast, clearly no current NRL player genuinely wants to come to SL. They'll make positive noises ("It's something I've always wanted to do" etc.) but what this translates as is "I couldn't get an NRL gig, this'll do as a second best option".
NRL is taking our very best. This is clear. Who are SL's current poster boys? Josh Charnley? Ryan Hall? Tommy Makinson? Chris Hill? Let's watch them closely. If at least 2 of these don't end up in NRL within the next couple of years I will be very surprised. And if they do surely even you and the hardiest SL advocates will belatedly acknowledge a problem.
NRL by contrast is sending is duds. Off the top of my head we have Ashton Sims and Ken Sio as the best names I can think of for next year. Capable NRL players. Nothing more. Hull FC in the midst of losing Crooks have signed a Gold Coast Titan I have never heard of in 2 seasons of watching NRL pretty much every weekend. This is a more typical current NRL > SL signing and it is depressing.
Like I say, Crooks, Hodgson etc. I don't think are huge NRL targets. They will do well to get past a season over there. But they are good SL players. By very virtue of the fact that NRL have taken them I would argue vociferously that this means they are top 4 SL calibre players. Having seen lots of Hodgson and a little of Crooks I think that's valid just applying my own eye test. That in itself suggests that they would not commit long or even medium term to either Hull club as they are right now (a direct result of Rovers biting at FC's fanbase).
The opposite of this was true in the 1980s and early 1990s. We were taking the Aussies' best. They pushed on brilliantly and we didn't.
So how do we address this? For me it's simple and it's a revisiting of the 1995 plan. By broadening the RL fanbase we could bring in more revenues and create stronger teams and thus a stronger league overall, with all teams spending to a higher cap. With the 1995 plan this of course means for Hull a team that could comfortably keep the likes of Crooks and Hodgson for life. Indeed, as with the current NRL sides taking them they may not even be good enough. To give another example, we would have had a team that could have made Jon Wilkin a max contract player for his entire career and a local hero rather than yet another unnecessary defector.
At the very, very top end there is always likely to be some movement between the leagues that no individual club can prevent. The recent moves to NRL I've outlined. In the 1980s our pilfering of Sterling, Kenny etc. These are determined more by the overall strength of each league and are in essence healthy if both leagues are healthy.
At the minute they are not.
Losing huge talents to the city of Hull (like Wigan) you can argue is occasionally unavoidable. But losing more modest talents like Crooks, Hodgson, Taylor, Briscoe etc. - and particularly losing them within our own league structure - is simply criminal. But we choose to protect our old traditional rivalries rather than keep them in town.
The Australians were not moving to England in the 80's and 90's.
They played there in the off season as the two leagues were in different time frames, the same was true off English players plying their trade down under in their off season, Ward, Offiah, Lydon, Hanley, Crooks, Schofield, Gregory, Hampson etc etc there was lots that moved both ways and it was probably better for the game in many ways both at Club and Test level.
Once the game in England went to Summer the flow of top quality stopped almost immediately, when was that 1995?
Back in those days most players had full time jobs and did not get paid that much to play Rugby League so the idea of cashing in playing in the other hemisphere for good money was attractive.
Its not a great set up but basically 16 teams finish the year and get divided into two groups of eight based on where they finished the previous year.
1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15 in one group
2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16 in the other group.
You play the teams in your group twice and the teams in the other group once during the season.
The rest is just waffle on byes's and points system.
When a couple of new teams are admitted (maybe as many as four teams eventually) they will probably scrap the byes, allow stand alone SOO weekends and play each other once, home and away alternating each year.
People need to move past what this isnt and just deal with it as it is.
Yes we all want a champions league style comp between the best NRL and SL sides, bloody hell i wish they were two conferences of the same competition with a combined play-offs and we play for a world championship every year.
The reason we dont get that(or anything like it or in its place) is because the Australians think that such a competition would be hugely one-sided and as such struggle to capture the publics imagination and attract crowds and money. This is just an attempt to prove that games between the top NRL and top SL sides can be competitive, they can attract crowds and they can make money.
If you want to a competition between the best NRL and SL sides, sell out these games and get behind them because they are the first step towards that however flawed they are.
If this format goes ahead and a Super League team from the top three beats an NRL team that came 10th from 16 what does that mean to the fans? not much really.
It needs to be the best against the best.
How about the Manly Sea Eagles and Souths Sydney Rabbits play Hull KR and Wakefield, that will get the fans excited.....
The whole Warriors team got blown away by a red hot Roosters team, the bombs that Tomkins didn't catch we're almost impossible because he was generally up against three on rushing Roosters without any support from his own team mates.
Anthony Minichiello dropped a Johnson bomb cold but where's your criticism of him!
I am not sure what 3 defenders coming at him has to do with catching the Ball
About the same as Minichiello being 34 years of age and a veteran in his last year in the NRL and scoring 3 more tries this season than Tomkins the "Gun" English Fullback.