By AARON BOWER
Jermaine McGillvary has called on Rugby League’s authorities to “bang some heads” and put the international game first, insisting the sport has gone backwards during his time as a player.
England international McGillvary was part of the Combined Nations All Stars team that defeated Shaun Wane’s side on Friday, with the Huddersfield winger representing his family’s Grenadian heritage as part of the select side, wearing the Grenadian flag on his shoulder.
And he had an outstanding game, scoring a try and running for 253 metres from 21 carries.
But after the game the 33-year-old launched a ferocious attack on the sport’s administrators after the game, saying the only way the sport he loves will grow is by prioritising international rugby, and bringing an end to the constant clashes at boardroom level.
“Super League and the RFL need to come together, bang some heads and sort this out,” said McGillvary.
“It seems like they’re fighting against each other and it shouldn’t be like that, it should be all for one to grow the game. There’s a feeling of ‘we’re going to make Super League big’ and ‘we’re going to make the RFL big’ – no.
“It should be let’s get big together. It might take years, but the game hasn’t grown at all, it’s gone a bit backwards. It’s such a great sport, my kids play it and I watch local amateur rugby; everyone loves it but it’s just not progressing.
“It needs to get the two organisations to come together and sort a proper international schedule out. As long as we keep fighting against each other, it just isn’t going to grow.”
McGillvary said that the England-All Stars game has potential to be a mainstay in the calendar – but it must be better organised in future after the game was overshadowed by player shortages due to the match taking place on the same weekend as Super League fixtures.
“I think we need to build international rugby a lot better,” he said.
“This round should have been on a standalone weekend and enabled England and the All Stars to pick the best players to put on the best game possible. Make it the best of the best on both sides.
“If we’d planned it properly we could have flown some of the NRL boys over, too. But as long as we’re not playing games, it’s not going to grow. We need a good international game for this sport to grow.
“I’ve been playing for 12 or 13 years now, and the sport hasn’t progressed since I came through. I’ll be honest, if anything it’s actually declined a little bit with the players and how it’s run. I think it could be managed a lot better and hopefully in years to come, this can be a regular fixture.”
McGillvary did his England chances no harm with a wonderful solo try and a composed all-round performance, but he admits that he is fully aware that after being overlooked by Wane for Friday’s game, his international career may already be over.
“I don’t know,” McGillvary said when asked if he had improved his chances of selection after his performance.
“There’s some fantastic wingers that were on the field today, and some that weren’t here like Tom Johnstone.
“I’m 33 and I’m no fool, I know I could have played my last game for England. Hopefully I can get in the squad and push those guys hard but it’s up to Shaun.
“I found out on Monday I wasn’t in England’s 19 so I rang Jake Connor to tell him, and he said that they were five players short and that Tim wanted me to come into camp right now. I had to sort the kids out pretty sharpish and got into camp on Tuesday morning and it’s been awesome. But I absolutely loved the experience.”
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