Ben Jones-Bishop has joined the growing number of Jamaican players heralding the importance of regular fixtures for the Reggae Warriors, on the road to the 2021 World Cup.
Jamaica will play at the event for the first time in two years, having qualified through the North American qualifiers at the expense of Canada and the USA.
There are currently no fixtures scheduled for the end of this year – though League Express has learned there are major talks underway about games against some top-end European sides towards the end of this year.
Jones-Bishop believes it is vital to keep the squad as hungry and competitive as possible for the World Cup.
“A few Super League players wanted to get involved last year but weren’t allowed, but I hope we can keep building,” he told League Express. “It’s vital to get some fixtures at the end of the season, to get the momentum rolling again into the World Cup in 2021.
“I’d also like to see us go to Jamaica and help the grass roots game over there. It was the first chance for me to play with my brother, which was special.”
Jones-Bishop admits that, after the players had to self-fund their trip to Florida (for the qualifiers last winter), it is just as important for Jamaican Rugby League to grow off the field, as on it.
“It’s been well-documented that we had to pay our way out to America,” he said, “so the biggest thing its getting some sponsors on board. It’s about building momentum both on and off the field.
“It was really good to be a part of it all. I was new to the squad and the majority of it had been together for years. They’d had a couple of failed attempts at the World Cup.
“It was a very special. Hopefully we can keep that core together because it’s a very young squad. There’s me and Joe Brown are the oldest, but I hope a few more will jump on board.”