Former England and Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock has suggested the possible introduction of a Six Nations tournament into international Rugby League, after admitting more needs to be done to expand the game at the very top level.
Peacock believes that players are still keen to play more international games, despite a hectic schedule at domestic level every year. And he believes integrating new teams in with the likes of England and Australia is a smart move forward for the international game – insisting that the game would benefit from such tournaments being arranged.
“There’s still a clamour there from the players to play international games, without a doubt,” Peacock told League Express.
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“If you said to the players that once every four years you’d play a Six Nations with five games and a final, they’d be happy with that. Players want to play for England as many times as they can; they don’t want 30 caps, they want to go on and play 50 or 60 times.
“If you throw PNG in there and the likes of Fiji and Wales; sure they might get hammered initially against teams like Australia, but the fact they’re playing the Australians would mean you’d fill a ground out in these countries. It makes for a much more vibrant and lively competition with those extra teams and those extra fixtures in there. It would make it so much more interesting and appealing rather than the same old stuff.
“I think that’s what was so good about the World Cup; we saw different nations playing each other who don’t normally lock horns.”
Peacock also called for long-term plans to be put into place to ensure the strengthening of international Rugby League, saying that if certain countries do not wish to be involved, the game should steam ahead without their involvement.
“The International Federation were supposed to do all these wonderful things following on from the World Cup, but nothing has happened. We’ve manage to muddle ourselves into a 2017 World Cup, and although we’ve pulled together a series with the Kiwis, what’s happening beyond that? Nobody knows,” he said.
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“International Rugby League is a great spectacle, and if certain countries don’t see where the game is at – at a stage where it needs to grow and improve – then we should just go ahead and do it without them.”
The 36-year-old also believes that a re-introduction of a mid-season international is vital for the game to continue to grow, whether it is England heading overseas, or foreign opponents coming to England.
“We should aim to have at least one mid-season game; whether that’s England going Down Under or bringing one of them over here. That needs to be a key thing to improve on, even if it takes until after the World Cup to get it in place.
“We need to be planning six or seven years ahead; let’s know what we’re doing long-term and not just bounce around from season to season.”