18th November 2016, 17:50 | FourNations
“WHAT do you think?”
It’s a question reporters hate, particularly at media conferences. A media conference is not a conversation, it is frankly an inquisition.
Few sit down in front of a room full of people and leave themselves open to unpredictable questioning without good reason. You want to be elected, you want to stay elected, you or your employer wants to sell something – and that just about covers most of the reasons anyone ever does it.
So when someone throws that question back at the reporter, they are avoiding answeringit themselves, pure and simple. We’re here to hear what you think. Some of us are lucky enough to get paid for expressing our own opinions, in which case why would we do so to you, gratis?
England captain Sam Burgess threw this one at me on Sunday. Admittedly it wasn’t a media conference but a mixed zone ‘all-in’ and London Stadium and he said “would” rather than “do”.
The question I had asked was whether England’s failure to make Sunday’s Four Nations final had made it more likely that they would pick ‘heritage’ players – those who qualified technically without having resided here for any length of time – in the World Cup.
My colleague Michael Carayannis has reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that a cap on the number of Super League players who will be released for next year’s mid-season Test in Australia, means many of these heritage players will have to be picked.
The names you’ve already heard include Daly Cherry-Evans, Blake Austin, Trent Hodkinson, Josh Morris, Brett Morris, Darcy Lussick, Chris Mcqueen, Adam Cuthbertson and David Gower.
Surely if one or more of these players takes the field in St George’s Cross in May and excels, he won’t be dropped for a World Cup in Australia later that year.
‘What I think’, which I expressed earlier this year on Fox Sports NRL 360, is this:
I am not English. This decision will be as much emotional as practical. There is an entire country of players, match officials, coaches and volunteers to consider when bringing in someone who is not a product of that system.
The selections of Rangi Chase and Maurie Fa’asavalu remain controversial years later. In the case of Fa’asavalu, it’s the same sort of criticism the Aussies got for selecting Semi Radradra – that he should have played for a developing league nation, not one of the ‘Big Three’.
In the case of Chase, though, it’s instructive to compare his six Test tenure with the reaction that might greet a ‘plastic Pom’.
Had England been more successful with Chase, would you be more likely to have supported him? That’s not a rhetorical question because if you are English you are more qualified to answer it than me.
If you can countenance one ‘outsider’ in a problem position, there is only one man to go for in my opinion – Daly Cherry Evans.
He’s played 11 times for Australia and six times for Queensland. Morally, that might disqualify him in your view and that’s fine because, as I said, it’s up to you.
But if he can be convinced to renounce those qualifications (the new rules don’t have an impact on him, they only allow gangway to tier two countries) then he can lead England to the World Cup in my opinion. He’s a talented organiser, runner and kicker of the football. He’s a reliable defender. He’s slipped down the pecking order in the NRL but, when fit, he remains an outstanding athlete.
On Sunday, Burgess pointed out that I had ‘ummed and ahhed’ in response to him throwing my question back at me.
I hope you benefited from my extended ‘um’ and more detailed ‘ah’.