Hull KR and Ireland forward Tyrone McCarthy gives his take on the recently completed World Club Series.
So the NRL has kicked off and Super League has seen a full weekend of fixtures played since the World Club Series.
Looking at the results we could feel like we have reasons to be disappointed by going down 3-0 to the NRL clubs.
Souths proved to be far superior against St Helens. Although I believe Saints did not play to their potential that evening, maybe down to the relentless pressure of Souths or just a bad day at the office, we will never know why.
Souths’ performance highlighted why they were so dominant in the NRL last season, and in round one this season they produced another ruthless display against the Brisbane Broncos.
Concluding that the 39-0 World Club Challenge scoreline doesn’t represent the difference in the two competitions completely, I think this was demonstrated in the two other games in the series, which were both narrow wins for the Australian-based sides. In fact the Wigan game was 12-12 after 80 minutes, only for an extra time penalty to give Brisbane the win.
Additionally, Warrington had some calls that went against them, that would have changed the game completely in favour of the Super League side. I believe if the high tackle on Kevin Penny was in a regular Super League game Nabuli would have seen red.
Many people will say it is still a loss and the Super League competition is miles behind the NRL, which may be true. The Super League teams, who finished second and fifth in the regular season, were beaten by teams that finished eighth (Brisbane) and 11th (St George) in the NRL table in 2014. However, even if Super League did win the series 2-1 I’m not sure we would have credited Super League as a superior competition to the NRL.
Rather than complain about why we didn’t win the series, we need to look at the reasons why the NRL teams won the series and focus on those areas to ensure that next time we have a Super League win.
The NRL salary cap is £3.37M in 2015, compare that to Super League’s £1.825M a year cap, giving NRL clubs nearly double the amount to spend on players. I wouldn’t say the NRL teams are twice as good as the Super League ones, but maybe they have twice the amount of players?
It is here I believe that player depth is a problem in the UK compared to Australia, the extra cap allows them to bid and attract star players from within their competition and lure Super League’s stars. It also allows teams to have a larger playing squad, which in turn means more players are a getting higher level of coaching and training, creating a competitive environment at each club.
This increases the intensity of games week in and week out. When a regular starter is injured or suspended there is a ready-made replacement waiting to perform. I believe the new structure of 12 teams will make the Super League competition similar but it will take time, it has been apparent in recent years that the intensity of games in Super League can alter week to week, where as in Australia the games seem to be full tilt each weekend.
This could be the reason why two of the Super League teams that played in the World Club Series lost in their following Super League fixtures, although it’s apparent this season that each Super League squad is stronger and if you don’t perform it’s unlikely you will win, which may have not been the case a couple of season ago.
The game in the UK is heading in the right direction, and the new structure will hopefully provide the intensity needed to improve the game. The World Club Series needs to be an annual event as commercially it is a great product to sell.
The attendances at the games show that the fans are excited by the concept and it’s a great way to showcase the game to a worldwide audience and for Super League clubs to increase their brand awareness in Australia, a market where rugby league is huge but there is little Super League influence.
The World Club Series can be seen a big success and there is a lot of opportunity for it to grow and increase the profile of our great game for the good.
Tyrone McCarthy is a former Warrington Wolves forward who spent the 2014 season with the Northern Pride in the Queensland Cup. He returned to the UK in 2015 to play for Hull Kingston Rovers. He is closely involved with Rugby League charity The Full Blood Project.