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21st December 2017, 09:51 | steve_mascord

WE GOT ISSUES: Denver clash

WE GOT ISSUES: Denver clash

By Steve Mascord

ENGLAND coach Wayne Bennett is well-meaning in saying he’ll stick around if administrators can deliver on a Test against New Zealand in Denver next June.

But the administrators who we are relying upon to make sure the game happens aren’t at Red Hall or Salford Quays.

In fact, Bennett will find someone with far more influence over the fate of the match if he walks out of his office at Brisbane’s Red Hill and knocks on the door of the Broncos CEO, Paul White.

In fairness, White is a committed internationalist and can probably be expected to support the match. Other NRL clubs? Not so much.

In all the discussion about the proposed match on June 23 next year, plenty of fans have pointed out – quite reasonably – that it is the job of clubs to be selfish.

That’s what CEOs are employed for, that’s why coaches are in their roles. They want to win and we shouldn’t expect any more from them.

So clearly we have a problem with how these decisions are made. We are letting clubs decide where an international is played on a weekend when there are no NRL game scheduled.

It appears the fallback plan for the Kiwis is to play Fiji in Sydney. Yes, in Sydney – because, like over-zealous parents, the clubs don’t want to let those naughty children out of their sight.

Our game cannot proceed under these circumstances while our rivals stage events all over the globe. We just can’t compete on the global sports stage while we let clubs dictate the location of matches and cede to them the right to withhold players from sanctioned internationals.

Governing by consensus only works if you eventually find consensus. The modern trend of “bringing everyone along with you” – that’s why the pilot explains exactly why your flight is late – is all well and good if things get done.

If the flight is cancelled, knowing why is scant consolation.

I’d like to know if the rules still exist allowing the RLIF to compel a governing body to stand down a player if he pulls out of an international with no good reason.

Perhaps the page on which this provision is written is covered in dust and falling apart. But it used to exist.

Of course, the clubs will say that since they don’t have any games on the rep weekend, there isn’t a match for the star to miss. Why not update the rule so that if a player is withdrawn from a Test without attending a medical he must miss one club game as punishment – even if it’s the next week?

The clubs will tell you they employ the players – that’s the deck of cards they bring to the table. The event promoters, they bring cash to the table. The players unions, they also expect consultation.

But what about the game itself – the interests of rugby league? Rugby league is left begging plaintively for help from these other parties, with no cards, no bargaining power.

Please, please please let us play a sanctioned Test match in a major North American city; an event someone else is paying for and which will not clash with any club games! Pretty please!

Let’s give the game some bargaining power, let’s give it a big stick. If you want to be involved in our sport, you must be available for internationals on an international weekend.

Football, with all the geographic coverage, money, competing interests and sheer number of competitions can manage something approaching this.

Is it really that much to ask for a sport that has only two fulltime leagues in the entire world?