The State We're In

"Phil in the Box" What the Rugby League radio commentator saw.

The State we're in This was the name of a very successful tome of the 90s written by Will Hutton, then editor of the Observer about the economic health of Great Britain. Someone with more time than me should do the same for Rugby League.

I, like everyone else around me sat stunned at the debacle in Sydney. One guy walked out after 60 minutes screaming (literally) 'I can't take any more of this!'

Can it be only nine months ago that we all watched, at Wigan, a Great Britain side putting together a very creditable performance in the third Ashes Test, one which made the international man of mystery Malcolm (X) Andrews state in the edition of League Express of 26 Nov 2001 that he couldn't wait for 12 July 2002 in Sydney?

Well that's all history now and we have to fight back. Despite what some say, for me it is time for the import tariff to come back.

It wont be a instant cure and it's not to say that some overseas players haven't enhanced British Rugby League, but with five available slots for each Super League team that's sixty spots that could be available to BRITISH PLAYERS. Add on those who don't qualify for Great Britain but have come off the overseas register through length of residence in the UK, such as Robbie Paul to name but one, and then those non qualifiers who have EU passports, and one is left to wonder if we are turning, like football's Premiership, to an 'anyone but British' policy. One of the most depressing things for me this week was Leeds Rhinos announcing the signing of Chris McKenna.

Not because McKenna isn't a top class player - we all saw his capability in the Test - but because having lost Tonie Carroll, why didn't they consider giving their really good young squad players a chance to step in?

I am old enough to remember English cricket in the 1970's being awash with overseas players. I seem to recall Warwickshire having at least four West Indians in their County Championship side (Khanai, Kallicharan, Murray and Gibbs). They weren't the only side with a number of overseas players and it is safe to say many a good English youngster never got a chance.

They did something about it, and if Rugby League doesn't we will never ever be competitive again. Sorry, that's the reality.