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  1. Second Canadian Team

    The quote is the only ‘fact’, right? You have revealed some insightful points, but this isn’t one of your best. It’s quite obvious Perez’s own words did not state any super league clubs need ‘to make way for the North Americans’. TWP started in 2017. It might be a stretch for them to make super league in 2019. Maybe 2020 if things fall into place. 5-6 NA teams will not quickly appear at SL level. So there is time for existing clubs to innovate and compete. But regardless of NA, rugby league faces a huge challenge. Support and player numbers are dropping (a challenge only faced by many sports beyond rugby league). Historic clubs are dying, and that started long before TWP. Compared to other global sports and entertainment options rugby league is not in a position of power. It’s barely a blip. That matters. It matters for today’s casual fan. It matters for tomorrow’s fan because, most importantly, it matters for tomorrow’s athlete. Athletes want exposure and opportunity. Fans want to watch the best athletes. Rugby League needs a shot in the arm. It needs something to inspire current and future athletes to lob on down to the local academy, whether in Salford, Cumbria or Toronto and make a career from it. North America seems to be that something at the moment. Toulouse, PNG Hunters, a possible Fiji team, Serbia, even London in the lower grades are all good examples of things happening in new and exciting directions. Tonga and Fiji at the World Cup. RLWC 2025 in the US. But they haven’t captured the imagination of players and fans like TWP or the NYC bid. The time spent on the approval of NA bids indicate the RFL are doing reasonable diligence. There will be challenges. There will be heartache. There will be success stories, some of which might even come from the heartlands. I’m all for this NA experiment.
  2. I’d prefer Aus v Tonga in Hawaii, and Aus v NZ in Auckland, but if they decide to play either/all of these in Qatar, surely Lebanon would have to be on the cards too. Highest bidder might not necessarily be best for the game long-term, but if highest bidder wins then what can we do to build it right up? Week 1: Ton v Leb / Aus NZ Week 2: Leb v Fra / Aus v Ton, with NZ in England?? Some other nations are crying out for fixtures. Could you sell the idea to Qatar - the bigs nations will play if you pay to get more teams involved? Canada, Serbia, Italy, etc wouldn’t say no, I’m sure. Could always be better planned, but still it’s good to see there are a few options on the table for internationals with a range of pros and cons.
  3. Looks like things are getting closer to fruition: If they can replicate even half the success of the PNG Hunters it’ll be another good shot in the arm for Pacific RL. The competitive landscape is a bit different though, with Union the number 1 code, the strength of Sevens, and an NRC team already playing in Aus. Interesting times ahead. Good luck to all involved!
  4. Hotly debated on here already, but here’s a few digs and arguments from an author on the other side. For mine, the rigid eligibility criteria the author discusses (play for one nation, you’re with them for life) smacks of head-in-the-sand given the quickly changing global citizenship dynamics. If that attitude is widespread in union, that feels like an opportunity for league to get players over from fringe or heritage nations. The RLWC started this conversation. Players are taking notice. Nations are paying attention. How can we, the thirteen code, capitalise?
  5. Great point. I was saddened when talking to RL fan a few days ago who didn't know the World Cup was on, let alone care much. Hopefully this coverage invigorates casual fans, and it should certainly up the competitiveness. In a roundabout way, RL has opened debate on heritage in an increasingly fluid world, and the much-maligned eligibility rules could accidentally be somewhat of a leading model for the future.
  6. Your international rugby league rankings?

    Australia, New Zealand, England. Samoa, Fiji, Scotland, Tonga, PNG, France ... @Farmduck is spot on about Lebanon and Italy, so let's throw one of them in the top 10. Wales and Ireland should be competitive in every game against the other mid-tier teams but might not have the heritage/talent depth to get multiple wins. Can't see USA providing much resistance.
  7. Should be a regular first-team man in super league, even if that's consistently from the bench. If they get relegated and he stays, definitely a starter. Can't say he really stood out in attack in the games I've seen, but seems fairly mobile. Defensively has a very sound technique. After a strong Dragons tackle, you'd often see him or De Belin (another with a great technique) at the bottom of it.
  8. Samoa Squad

    Brilliant squad, and great for international rugby league to have a team with a realistic chance of knocking over a tier 1 nation. The Tongan squad is great too. I'm all for notions of loyalty and patriotism, but in an increasingly mobile world where 'nationality' is increasingly convoluted, Rugby League is acknowledging this complexity and allowing representation of diverse heritages. It might be borne out of necessity - even desperation - to get better competition at the top level, but it might also be a point of difference in the competitive sporting landscape and help these lower tier nations build competitive, interesting RL identities.
  9. Was wondering the same myself. Haven't seen it mentioned. A few more I forgot - John Asiata, Suaia Matagi and Nelson Asofa-Solomona all qualify too. Aparently Milford and McGuire confirmed their eligibility. With Widdop out, this game is shaping as a cracker.
  10. Absolutely. A hard-fought, physical win in a hastily organised game would do wonders for English confidence. NB I edited the OP to take Lolohea out. No strong reason ... other than his Tongan heritage ... oops. Nu Brown is still solid, though.
  11. Frank Pritchard is out of the mid-season test, but eligibility changes give Samoa their strongest squad ever. England as underdogs? Samoa could give the whole World Cup a shake if they can develop some of these combinations. Shout out if I've missed any: 1. Young Tonumaipea 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joey Leilua 4. Tim Lafai 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Ben Roberts 7. Anthony Milford 8. Sam Kasiano 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Junior Paulo 11. Sia Soliola 12. Sione Mata'utia 13. Josh McGuire 14. Leeson Ah Mau 15. Jesse Sue 16. Issac Liu 17. Nu Brown Leilua, McGuire seem most likely to get Aussie call-ups. Kasiano might get NZ interest. But there's plenty of depth. NRL: Pat Vai Vai, Kirisome Au'ava, Frank Winterstein, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Bunty Afoa, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo, Peter Mata'utia, Pat Mata'utia, Chanel Mata'utia, Daniel Vidot, Matt Wright, Peta Godinet, Erin Clark, Mason Lino SL: Krisnan Inu, Harrison Hanson, Willie Isa, Junior Moors, Lama Tasi. Thomas Lealuai has Samoan heritage so might be a veteran presence if overlooked by NZ.
  12. Replacing WCC with the Challenge Cup

    Certainly seems like a tough sell for NRL clubs given their current funding, the number of games already played, and the seeming lack of interest in the existing WCC, but a nice thought starter. To move in that direction, you could look at individual club matches rather than a full tournament. NRL clubs often get itchy feet and take games on the road. Do an NRL match or two in Toronto with a Wolfpack and Super League game on the same day or weekend. Take the same three games to Florida (if they're serious about League 1), throw a USARL game in and make it a Rugby League festival with all the community engagement and coaching that goes with it. Instead of one SL game, could they take the whole Magic Weekend? Another idea might be inviting a few UK clubs to the Auckland Nines, and host the WCC games in Aus/NZ at the same time.
  13. Future of League 1

    If the game ever grows that far and wide, it could be good to see consolidation at the top rather than expanding leagues. Perhaps only 2 fully professional divisions (10-12 teams each, same salary cap) in a Trans-Atlantic Super League, run entirely separately from any country-specific board. Promo and relegation between Top and Chanpionship divisions. Lower leagues in England, France, USA, Canada etc, would be the 'third tier', and the winners of each national comp would play-off against other winners for the right to enter the professional structures. Of course, if the game was 'that' big, you'd probably look at North American, British and European conferences and have fairly equal representation across the board, but that's a much bigger pipe dream
  14. France V England

    Love this mid-season approach. The pre and post seasons might be ambitious given current club commitments. World Cups should be definite end of season events though.My bad on the double post - new user!!