Injury twist as international debate continues

CASTLEFORD are counting the cost of Sam Wood’s England selection after the centre was ruled out for the remainder of the season after being injured on his debut against France.
The former Huddersfield and Hull KR player’s form in his first campaign with the Tigers was reflected in his involvement in England’s 40-8 win in Toulouse.
But the 26-year-old now needs a shoulder reconstruction, and Castleford coach Craig Lingard pointed out: “As great as the international recognition was for Sam, it’s not been great for us.
“Hopefully that cap is the first of many, but it’s a blow to lose him and very unfortunate for us. He’s probably been our most consistent player this season.”
The Castleford setback came as Wood’s former coach at Hull KR Willie Peters joined the chorus of criticism of the low-key nature of the England-France clash, which attracted just 4,500 and was labelled by some observers as “embarrassing”.
In the absence of television coverage, the double-header – which kicked off with the women’s Test between England and France – was shown on the RFL’s SuperLeague+ digital subscription service, with some viewers reporting issues with the streaming.
A spokesman for the governing body responded: “The two matches delivered the best viewing figures on SuperLeague+ so far, driven by more than 10,000 new account holders, with especially encouraging figures for the women’s international.
“A handful of issues were reported to us, and we believe the majority were down to the number of new accounts opened in the minutes before kick-off of each of the two fixtures.”
Meanwhile Peters, who had two of his players Mikey Lewis and Elliot Minchella involved, said: “I’ve heard some comments about it being embarrassing and to be honest, I totally agree.
“As a coach, I want my players to play international rugby and would never hold a player back from playing for their country, for so many different reasons but most of all because it should be the highest honour.
“From seeing the build-up – and I’m not talking about internally in the England or France camps – to it not being on TV and the crowd, it was an embarrassment to the level that it should be at.
“Certainly some coaches now will be looking and thinking why would we let our players go there with the injury risk if people aren’t going to fully buy into what it’s all about?”
Lingard said: “I want players to play for their country. It benefits us in the long term that if you join Castleford, you can be an international.
“I want to do as much as I can to grow the international game, but it got to be better than it was.
“Whose job is it to promote these type of matches? This is game-wide. We could be sitting here talking about Magic Weekend in the middle of August and we will get there and say what a shambles it is.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,438 (July 8, 2024)

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