Off the Wall

I know this is no chance, but I would love to see a return to the Kangaroos tours of old - which were somewhat reminiscent of an Ashes tour of the UK.

Pre-Super League, the Kangaroos generally left straight after the grand final and embarked on a two month plus tour that probably involved three tests in the UK, three or four matches against UK clubs, and then a couple of tests and another match in France.

That probably amounted to up to a dozen matches over a two month period.

The 2011 Kangaroos have a positively easy task by comparison. In a four week period they have three scheduled games, against New Zealand, Wales and England, and the final if they make it.

The Kangaroos of old generally had a mid week game then a weekend one. It's down to a match a week these days.

It is not going to change - doing so would require the NRL season starting earlier and finishing earlier, and the UK Super League competition is over by the time the Kangaroos arrive.

Now the UK season broadly aligns with ours, tour matches against clubs are but a part of the history of the game.

And, even more sadly, there won't be any lengthy reciprocal tours of Australia by the Poms.

My first taste of international football was a match between Toowoomba and France. And I will never forget some of the great contests between Queensland Poms, and Kiwis, at Lang Park.

But all that is history.

Under the new ownership structure of the game, international rugby league will only survive if it delivers competitive games and good crowds. History and tradition will count for three fifths of not much!

The IC will be under real pressure on a number of fronts - a shorter premiership season (won't happen in my view), and maximising television exposure and revenue from premiership and origin matches.

About the only good news on the international front is that the Anzac Test will be on a weekend next year. That will only last if it remains competitive.

The IC needs to persevere at the international level. The fact that the first chairman is a former Kangaroo tourist, as is another IC member, will help keep the needs of the international game on the radar.

But the premiership is going to be an even greater focus in the future than it is today.

When you look at the obviously dire financial circumstances of a number of NRL clubs you really can't blame the clubs for wanting it to be so.

But the international game needs to survive - and it can only survive if Australia, New Zealand and England remain not just committed to it, but competitive in it!

Last Sunday afternoon was not a great one for competitiveness. But the Kiwis will bounce back.

The real worry is England. The Poms have been profoundly disappointing in recent years. A short four nation's series on home soil gives them a chance of some redemption.

We wish the Kangaroos a safe and rewarding trip - and one that enhances the international game!

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