Swinton Lions skipper and long-serving Wales star Rhodri Lloyd says far more resources should be put into developing the international game.
The 18-times capped former Wigan player, who is set to feature in his third World Cup later this year, wants to see an annual Five Nations tournament featuring England Knights and France, as well as Wales, Scotland and Ireland, who are led by his Swinton coach Stuart Littler.
Centre of second rower Lloyd, 28, was born and raised in Caerphilly in rugby union-dominated South Wales and grew up watching the 15-a-side code’s famous Six Nations Championship while playing in the Newport Gwent Dragons development system.
“The Six Nations is so well established, and while we would obviously be unable to match its scale, it provides a blueprint we should follow,” explained the former South Wales Scorpions player, who made his Wales debut at 17.
“You’d have to give it time to evolve and persist with it, like rugby union did with going from Five to Six Nations by including Italy.
“At this stage, the full England side would be too strong, but we could have the Knights competing against Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France on an annual basis.
“I can’t see why can’t do that, and by fielding the Knights, it would be a more level competition with better games to attract fans, and it would only help the other nations to improve.
“I’m sure Stu Littler would be all over that, because it would give valuable game time and also help him to bring through more homegrown players like Ronan Michael, the Huddersfield prop, who is on loan with us.”
Wales will face Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands in World Cup Group D and Lloyd, speaking to the Lions Podcast, added: “We’re looking forward to it, and it’s great to represent the three feathers of Wales.
“It’s a tough group, but we’re used to doing it tough, and we’ll prepare well and give it our best.”
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