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UTK

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  1. How good is international RL. Just finished up watching on delay, feared for the worst after 20 but France were the best side for 50 minutes in the end. Couldn't ice a couple of their chances and got very unlucky with Lyne not being binned on half time. Neither side close to full strength but it was still a very entertaining display. Seguier made experienced internationals look silly all game which is a massive for a bloke who has been getting 15-20 mins if he's lucky in SL. Le Cam and Sangare delivered on the hype surrounding them. Goudemand and Dezaria continued the strong form they showed throughout the season at Cats. Goudemand in particular is a genuinely top quality middle and adding the best SL lock in Garcia to the french pack will strengthen them immensely. Morgan Escare deserves a big wrap for his defensive efforts while playing out of position, saved half a dozen tries with smart play out wide. Benjamin Jullien is far too good a player to not be playing regular super league, would be a very astute signing for Toulouse. Walmsley is a cheat code, the bloke is impossible to pull down and always seems to get the arm free. Abdulls kicking was brilliant but he seemed to dip out of the game during the middle period a little. Davies managed an absolute pearler finish but then proceeded to bottle the next couple. Hardaker exposed poor Jussaume early on but Jullien managed to mostly contain him from then on. Makinson gave his all as is expected but struggled a little to make the inroads in yardage he often does, some big defensive efforts on his part as well. Group A in the RLWC should be very interesting next year.
  2. Losing their best three in Garcia, Fages and Bousquet is far from ideal while their depth is so thin. Da Costa and Springer would've also got starts I'd imagine. As a positive there's only 3 players over 30 (Gigot, Kheirallah, Pelissier) with plenty of debutants so they'll be able to use this experience as a base for the future squad.
  3. French Team List: https://www.ffr13.fr/les-compositions-des-equipes-de-equipes-de-france-pour-affronter-langleterre/ 1. Mark Kheirallah 2. Ilias Bergal 3. Matthieu Laguerre 4. Mathieu Jussaume 5. Fouad Yaha 6. Arthur Mourgue 7. Tony Gigot (C) 8. Romain Navarrete 9. Anthony Marion 10. Jordan Dezaria 11. Benjamin Jullien 12. Paul Seguier 13. Mickael Goudemand 14. Eloi Pelissier 15. Maxime Puech 16. Justin Sangare 17. Corentin Le Cam 18. Matthieu Cozza 19. Cesar Rouge 20. Morgan Escare
  4. As a Knights fan I can't see us budging on him for 2022 as there aren't any decent halves on the market to replace him. The only way I could see it happening would be locking Bailey Hodgson into the 1 and moving Ponga to 6, as Hodgson has only played a handful of games in the last few seasons I think this move would be long odds to happen for 22. The uncertainty around Pongas future at the club further clouds this long-term depth so I don't think it'll happen. Think Cats could dodge a bullet there too, Pearce is okay but his best days are well behind him and his athleticism is decreasing fairly rapidly. Though he's not actually that old he's been in first grade since he was 17 and his game relies that aforementioned athleticism to a decent degree. I definitely don't think he'll be with us from 23 onward.
  5. Minimalistic is definitely a fair description, but for a first attempt the tournament generally exceeded expectations so there's no reason it couldn't expand in successive iterations. The international calendar that year was unusually stacked with the 9s WC and the GB tour taking up space either side of the competition so in a "regular" year there would be ample room to broaden the scope of the cup. It's also fair to point out the disparity in crowds, though the 3/4N had been established for a decade in 2016 whereas this was obviously the first attempt at a new concept. Nonetheless the relative lack of crowds/interest in international matches down here is framed by some key context that leads Australian audiences to believe international RL isn't worth watching. Australia now has a generation of young people who have never seen or will have no memory of Australia being beaten by anyone other than NZ (which was relatively rare in itself). This is why the Oceania Cup has so much potential, within one competition we already have another contender who can beat Australia for the first time in 15 years. An international tournament that is genuinely competitive is essential to break the unfortunately prevailing idea that Origin is the pinnacle (an incorrect idea), as has become further ingrained over the past 2 decades. Once that notion has been defeated then international RL will have the potential to rise above even the level that Origin holds within Australia at the moment. Australia planning to jet off to England and ditch the cup for a year was an absolute shambles, I completely agree. The cup needed to become established in the calendar every year while allowing teams to rotate through consistent P&R. There's no reason they couldn't have done both the tour and the cup but of course it never came to that anyway. Covid really could not have come at a worse time for RL all across the globe.
  6. The competition had 6 nations involved across the two tiers and was far more competitive than the 4N with every team bar PNG notching up a win. The only real criticism of the comp is that PNG should've played their games in Port Moresby.
  7. England team list. Extremely surprised Newman hasn't made the side, the rest is probably as expected. No disrespect intended to Lyne or Hardaker but Newman is the future so surely this game is perfect for giving him a debut.
  8. Matthieu Jussaume can be used as a good example to demonstrate why TO/French clubs have a positive impact on the SL player pool (and therefore the standards of the english game) that most other clubs can't replicate. Player of the match in the championship final after carving up Kris Welham, a player that played SL for the majority of the previous 15 seasons. Watching his interview in the post-game provided some insight into the challenges he would face getting a start in SL without being apart of TO. Jussaume admitted he had trouble understanding some of the interviewers questioning on account of the language barrier between the two. Without the french clubs, a talented french youngster such as Jussaume would have to make the move from his homeland to a very culturally different place in the north of England. Moving such a large distance from home would no doubt be a daunting decision to make on its own and dealing with these cultural challenges would make the transitioning process even more difficult. Whether Jussaume continues to become a success in SL remains to be seen, but we can be confident English players have benefitted from playing against the likes of Remi Casty, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Tony Gigot, etc. Some frenchmen have managed to make the jump successfully as youngsters (Fages/Julien as recent examples) but how much of the talent mentioned above would've been lost without the presence of Catalans because the burden of moving to England was too much as a kid. As many often complain the gap between the NRL and SL is as big as it ever has been, SL should really be looking to exploit new talent streams wherever possible. As many love to point out, TO/Cats aren't made up of entirely french players with plenty of quality English talent plying their trade across the channel. Established talent such as Tomkins/McMeeken/McIlorum don't face the same challenges as a young french player as invariably the majority of the club can speak their native tongue and their spot in the side is more or less entrenched once they sign. Young talent from the heartlands don't need to make such a large move to get a start within a professional squad, with 10 SL clubs and the fully English championship existing below SL. Therefore, french clubs provide benefits to England by raising the playing standard of SL through consistent access to a unique player pool while also not being prohibitive of English talent by reducing professional contracts available to quality English players.
  9. I would imagine it's nothing more than to round out their depth, both Leigh and Toronto (in their short stint) were ravaged by injury from the very start of their seasons which gave them no real chance to stay up. If there's one area TO are already pretty well stocked it's the spine but the addition of Cunningham should cover for such a worst-case scenario. Fullback: Kheirallah, Gigot Halves: Gigot, Ford, Albert (Pending re-signing?), Marion, White Hooker: White, Pelissier, Cunningham, Marion Agree that the pack is where most remaining signings need to strengthen.
  10. Yeah very much agree. Youngsters Laguerre, Jussaume, Chan, Le Cam, Sangare, Rouge getting an additional (or debut) SL season under their belts will strengthen their fringes and depth too. It's a shame they've landed a tough group for 22 in that sense but they should be looking toward a stronger peak come 2025.
  11. I suspect it may be another couple of months until he is eligible under the 5 year residency requirement. I stumbled across an older article on his brother Tiaki that stated the family came across to France in early 2017 which would leave the boys just short. If that is correct info he'll obviously be eligible come the 2022 WC.
  12. French Squad https://www.ffr13.fr/les-groupes-des-equipes-de-france-pour-preparer-langleterre/?fbclid=IwAR2lXTUMo0WuZ9KTfPtKNC8BMC0E9_icah447nEAuLNkEhd29mdOf5ig4Ik
  13. It's looking like their depth will be tested a bit unfortunately, Garcia sustained a badly broken hand in the final, Bousquet also picked up an injury and Fages is still ruled out through shoulder surgery. On the flip side Clark, Williams and McGillvary have already been ruled out and I believe Tomkins will be ruled out in the coming days.
  14. Nope nothing scheduled down here this season. Glad they haven't in a sense because it would've been a further kick in the teeth for the RLWC organisers I'd imagine.
  15. The WC fiasco is a valid source of concern however in the decade pre-covid it was played 8/10 times in England without issue. I'd imagine a return to a more equitable annually rotating basis would make it even more likely to continue without reluctance. Completely agree that nothing would improve the standing of the competition more than having a SL team beat an NRL team on their own turf, would be brilliant to see.
  16. Yeah I'd say it is a fair comment that we're on a relatively similar page with different approaches. I completely accept the point about the resource constraints of the RFL but I would disagree that they don't have a level of responsibility to develop these nations. In an ideal world that would be the case, but in an ideal world French RL wouldn't have fallen from the heights it once sat atop. The unfortunate reality is that there are two countries in the world that have access to funding that can assist the growth of the game, as such I believe both of those countries have a responsibility for state of their neighbours. If we had a situation where there were well-funded independent bodies that could adequately support international RL (IRL/ERL) then absolutely they would assume that responsibility. P&R structure complicates the utility of the French/Welsh clubs in developing competitive international teams. You can't run a PNG Hunters/Kaiviti Silktails in a P&R structure, so the French/Welsh teams exist in a fundamentally different state and for a different purpose. I'm not suggesting to remove P&R because I've come to understand it's greater importance within the English game in particular, hence why I've shifted my focus more to international matches here. To address the specific failings of P&R in promoting increased numbers of professional players I would suggest the most realistic option is the funding of annual junior internationals between England/France/Wales at multiple age levels (ie something like 16s/18s/20s). This allows junior talent to be exposed to professional clubs by competing against their English counterparts, putting aspiring kids in the shop window every year. This concept would ideally extend to a side from Wales competing in the academy system, though I imagine this would push the boundaries of resource constraints. Obviously the Euro championships are my big gripe at a senior level and I think it's fair to suggest that England should be competing here in some form despite the potential for larger score disparities. Their participation gives credibility to the competition as a European championship and ensures regular games against the top nation in Europe as a draw to commit heritage players long-term.
  17. I agree that we should be implementing a more comprehensive calendar that allows for cross-hemisphere matchups alongside consistent local tournaments. There's no reason the SH nations can't be part of that future, but the caveat is England cannot continue to ignore the rest of Europe's developing nations in favour of inviting SH nations to tour. The gap between the SH/NH developing nations was exposed at the 2017 WC and strengthening these nations needs to be the priority from now on. On the actual topic of the WCC, it needs to be locked in as a consistent fixture that rotates between the hemispheres each year (covid aside). That way there's no uncertainty where it is happening or whether it is happening following respective GFs.
  18. This disparity didn't just pop up out of nowhere though, it has been accentuated over time by England's continued neglect of their own backyard. It is a myth that England cares about the international game as a whole, England only cares about what benefits England (Exiles/Combined Nations anyone?). England have refused to humour the European championships for over 15 years now, such a tournament is no chance of attaining any proper level of coverage and prestige without the strongest European nation participating. Now that more SH nations have emerged as genuine contenders (some through heritage, some through proper development) England can no longer rely on SH teams to head north outside WCs as the SH have begun establishing their own regular tournaments (ie the Oceanic Cup exists where the 4N previously did). Consequentially, to find international opponents England now have to play development catch up with France + the Home Nations because they let the NH slip this far.
  19. I reckon Julien would be a good move for both parties. McNamara has only really used him as a last resort and it now appears Chan has jumped him in the pecking order too. I honestly think he offers more than Whitley when at his best and felt he proved himself while Whitley was out mid-season.
  20. Looks like they're coming back. https://www.rugby-league.com/article/36143/rfl-board-approves-laws-changes-for-2022
  21. Jamaica have now named their 21-man squad. Jamaica: Greg Johnson (Batley), Jordan Turner (Castleford), Jon Magrin, Keenen Tomlinson, (Dewsbury), Danny Bravo, Ross Peltier, (Doncaster), James Woodburn-Hall (Halifax) Ashton Golding, Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield), Aaron Jones-Bishop, Jordan Andrade, Jy-mel Coleman (Hunslet), Mo Agoro, (Keighley), Jacob Ogden (London Broncos) Abevia McDonald (London Skolars), Izaac Farrell, Joel Farrell (Sheffield), Joe Brown (Workington), Ben Jones-Bishop (York), Christopher Ball, Kadeem Williams (Unattached)
  22. Though we don't currently have either in the system, I agree the potential entry of NA teams does need to be treated differently to the French (ie paying for other sides to come across while in the lower tiers). True, but I think it's quite reasonable to infer from that trading name and the foundation teams chosen that the league was always intended to fulfil a broader scope than England alone.
  23. I would think he's a decent chance of taking a centre spot in the first team. There's some footage posted across the England RL social media of a joint training session between the Knights/Seniors squad but it appears there were no players from the final 4 teams involved. Other centre options in the video were King, Gildart, Hardaker and Lyne so I assume they're still working off the same wider squad named earlier this year. I don't believe Jamaica have named their squad yet.
  24. Very much a focus on youth there, couple of potential bolters for the '22 squad but likely looking ahead to '25 with this side.
  25. Not sure how many times people need to be reminded that the E in SLE stands for Europe as opposed to England.
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