England rugby director Kevin Sinfield has expressed his disappointment that the national side may not get to test their development against world champions Australia in 2019 due to a lack of willingness from the Kangaroos.
The RLIF meet this week in York to finalise the calendar moving on to the next World Cup in 2021, and Sinfield admits he has seen a prospective schedule already. Many want England or Great Britain, following another strong autumn for the former under Wayne Bennett, to now face the Kangaroos next year in a potential Ashes series on either side of the world.
Sinfield however, concedes that may not happen – and admits it is frustrating that England may not get too many chances to face the Aussies.
“We thought that politics was bad in our domestic game – they’re far worse with the RLIF and what they’re having to deal with,” Sinfield told TotalRL. “There are some plans, there’s a really exciting calendar that I’ve seen that’s been put together for next year.. but it may not involve Australia, and I think that’s sad.”
When asked if that was due to a lack of willingness from the Australians to organise it, Sinfield said: “Yes. And it’s tough because we would all love to see an England or Great Britain-related Ashes series against the Australians.
“We all want it here, and over this next block going into the 2021 World Cup, how many times will we play Australia? At the moment.. probably not enough. Your top nations need to keep playing against each other but sadly at this moment in time, I’m not quite sure that will happen. We will try and create the best experience and opportunity for our players through this next block to ensure we’re ready for 2021, though.”
With a Great Britain tour of New Zealand now the most likely option next year, Sinfield also admits there is no guarantee the men’s senior side will play a home international in 2019 – but says if they don’t, that creates the possibility for a home series for Paul Anderson’s England Knights.
“The difficulty is the calendar and the blocks we have,” Sinfield said.
“Mid-season is the only likely time (for the senior side), but even then, that may be away somewhere. I don’t think we’ll go to the southern hemisphere twice in the same year like in 2017.
“What’s key is that if we don’t have a home international series next year, it’s important the Knights play at home. There have been eight players who have stepped up and made their debuts. To take them to PNG and give them that experience – the next step for that group now is to get playing in front of their own fans in that England shirt.”