League Express Mailbag : Monday 19th December

As a Teessider who attended the Cook Islands v Tonga World Cup Rugby League match at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, I can categorically say that the statement made by Bob Simpson (Mailbag 12 December) is wrong.
He said ” I don’t know how 8,000 fans in a 30,000 stadium in Middlesbrough with no perceptible Teessiders present can fulfil those objectives”.
Middlesbrough was the host town for the Cook Islands, who for the duration of the competition engaged with the community by visiting schools, hospitals and civic events.
On the Friday prior to their match with Tonga on the Sunday, their players did a meet and greet session in our local Stewart Park. This was covered by local radio, our local paper, The Gazette and social media.
The people of Middlesbrough have a long tradition of welcoming sporting and cultural groups and love engaging with them. The local council are very proactive in that regard, so it was no surprise that a heavily promoted match caught the public imagination and Teessiders went along in their droves, probably never having been to a Rugby League match before.
The match was one-sided but to the locals that was irrelevant. What they enjoyed was the wonderful culture of both teams.
So to say that the objectives of the Rugby League World Cup were not fulfilled by this match could not be further from the truth. In fact quite the opposite.
Michael Brown, Stokesley, Middlesbrough


I greatly admire everything about St Helens and I note the club’s delight at being able to contest the World Club Challenge in 2023 by visiting the NRL Champions Penrith in February.
But what I don’t like is the disruption to the start of Super League and in particular for my club Huddersfield, whose opening fixture of the season against St Helens has been postponed to a later date, with the World Club Challenge being played on the same weekend.
Can you imagine the NRL disrupting the start of their season to accommodate the World Club Challenge? No way in the world, I’m afraid! They will only play it to suit themselves.
Wouldn’t it have been better to hold the World Club Challenge a week earlier at a neutral venue, perhaps in one of those air-conditioned stadiums in Qatar that we have been seeing over the last four weeks?
I only hope that St Helens are not going to go all the way to Australia simply to get hammered.
Geoff Aspinall, Huddersfield