WALES head coach John Kear has called for a regular tournament between Northern Hemisphere countries after a dismal World Cup for the home nations.
For the second tournament running, England and Lebanon, a side largely made up of Australian-based players, were the only two countries from north of the equator to reach the men’s quarter-finals.
Wales and Scotland failed to register a win, while Ireland and France earned only one each, over World Cup debutants Jamaica and Greece respectively, as did Italy.
Kear believes that more matches will be the key to strengthening the Welsh side and encouraging more players to join the Wales team, as he expressed his frustration at a schedule which has nothing in their diary apart from qualification for the 2025 World Cup.
International Rugby League’s planned calendar for the next twelve years has been much-delayed and is currently set to be revealed before the end of the year following this World Cup.
“If we kept playing regularly, more and more heritage players would put their hand up,” said Kear.
“But it’s such a sporadic thing. The only thing we know is that there’s another World Cup in three years.
“We don’t know what’s happening next year or the year after. That needs addressing.
“Hopefully with the success of this tournament, the number of eyes that have been on this tournament, the exposure this tournament has generated, surely to God the Super League clubs will realise they should just play each other home and away, and that creates an international window with a structured Northern Hemisphere competition.
“That’s the one way we’ll get better, by playing each other at as high a level as we can.”
Wales’ wait for a first World Cup victory since their run to the semi-finals in 2000 continues after taking nothing from a group that featured Cook Islands, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, but Kear says his players can take pride in their efforts.
“I think most people expected us to get a shellacking every single time and they certainly haven’t done that. They’ve represented their country with immense pride,” he said.
“I think we’ve become everyone’s second-favourite team, simply because of the endeavour and effort we’ve put in.”