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England Rugby League World Cup player ratings

Paul Fletcher | 14:00 UK time, Sunday, 16 November 2008

England's disappointing World Cup campaign was finally put out of its misery with the team's 32-22 semi-final defeat by New Zealand on Saturday.

Tony Smith's team left British shores full of optimism but after a scratchy victory over Papua New Guinea suffered their record World Cup defeat against Australia and lost twice in consecutive weeks to New Zealand.

But how did the England players rate during the tournament? Here is what I think. Feel free to disagree - I'd be disappointed if you didn't.

england_nz438.jpgRob Burrow - Will return home with his reputation enhanced after showing that his size - he stands 5ft 5in - can be an advantage. Ducked under tackles, broke the line and was a scurrying bundle of energy in a team that lacked invention, though his kicking, not his specialist area, wasn't brilliant. 7

Mark Calderwood
- Got his chance after Lee Smith picked up an injury against PNG. He might have ended the domestic season in scintillating form but looked shaky in defence in Australia and hardly caught the eye in attack. 4

Ade Gardner - Started with two tries against PNG but generally lacked the quality of service he receives from Matt Gidley at St Helens. Defence was suspect to say the least and decision-making poor at times, particularly in the semi-final. 5

Gareth Ellis - Super off-load led to England's opening try in the semi-final but a relatively quiet tournament for the second rower who will be staying in Australia following his move to Wests Tigers. Still got through plenty of work in defence. 6

Maurie Fa'asavalu - An injury to his hand in the thrashing by Australia in Melbourne brought his tournament to a premature end. As such the Samoan-born prop did not really make the expected impact from the bench. 5

Martin Gleeson - One of the few plus points. The Warrington centre showed his class, running some great lines and scoring three tries. Even so, he was not immune to the handling errors that blighted the campaign, with New Zealand scoring a crucial try in the semi-final after he knocked-on. 7

James Graham - Travelled to Australia with a burgeoning reputation. Did not have a poor tournament and got through an incredible amount of work but did not really shine as many expected. Came up with some uncharacteristic errors in the semi-final. 6

Mickey Higham - Given his chance in the group match against the Kiwis and caught the eye with his direct running from dummy half. Started in the semi-final and can go home with his head held high. 6

Gareth Hock - Started the campaign against PNG but had slipped out of the 17 by the time of the semi-final. The second rower did not create the breaks or show the off-loading skills that Smith would have hoped for. 5

Jamie Jones-Buchanan - In good form at the end of the domestic season and started the group game against NZ. Did not do enough to retain his place. 4

Jamie Langley - Another who only played in the group game defeat against New Zealand. The Bradford Bulls forward came on as an interchange and did not keep his place the following week. 4

Danny McGuire - An opportunistic finisher, always looking to sniff out an opening or support a break - traits he showed in Australia. Progressed from the interchange bench to starting against the Kiwis in the semi-final and scored two excellent tries. Not much of a kicking game. 7

Adrian Morley - It was no surprise that England visibly improved after he came off the bench in the semi-final and added some much needed go-forward. At 33, the former Sydney City Rooster is coming to the end of his career and the prop gave his all. One of England's best players. 7

Jamie Peacock - England's skipper - named forward of the year in 2006 and 2007 - did not take a backward step and his try in the semi-final came from sheer force of will. Time and again he showed-up in attack, taking the ball at first receiver and running at the opposition, while he got through loads of work in defence. Deserved better. 8

Leon Pryce - The biggest disappointment of all? He caused a brouhaha in the Aussie media by saying he preferred Blackpool to Bondi the last time he was down under but there were no shockwaves on or off the pitch this time. A stand-off with the ability to cut open any defence but he had a very quiet tournament and disappeared from games when we needed him most. His kicking game was poor as well. 3

Rob Purdham - Got his chance in the group game against New Zealand and was solid at loose forward. Kept his place for the semi-final and his pin-point kick that led to McGuire's first try was excellent but his goal-kicking was poor. He made several uncharacteristic errors, including kicking the ball dead from a restart. The Kiwis scored a minute later. 5

James Roby - Solid enough but the interpretation of the rules - allowing players to lay-on at the tackle - limited his ability to burst forward from the play-the-ball. Showed his power in barging over for England's only try against Australia but was billed as England's most dangerous player and did not really make the expected impact. 6

Keith Senior - Caught out of position several times against PNG and at 32 it looked like the miles on the clock were catching up with the centre. Improved through the tournament but rarely broke the gain line. 5

Kevin Sinfield - What happened to the inch-perfect kicking game that guided Leeds to their Grand Final win? A pale shadow of the player we see manoeuvring the Rhinos around the park and was left out of the 17 for the semi-final. 5

Lee Smith - What might have been? Came into the tournament on the back of a man of the match performance for Leeds in the Grand Final and scored a hat-trick against PNG but picked up a foot injury. Returned in the group game against the Kiwis but had a quiet evening. 6

Paul Sykes - Only played in the group game against New Zealand and had a night to forget. Unfortunate in that defensive reshuffles meant he played in the centre, on the wing and at full-back. Nonetheless, he was constantly caught out of position as England's defence capitulated. 3

Ben Westwood - The Warrington second rower impressed with two strong showings against the Kiwis. Caught the eye of several respected Australia observers with his surging runs and was capable in defence. 6

Paul Wellens - A very difficult few weeks for the St Helens full-back, who was comprehensively outshone by opposite number Billy Slater in the game against the Aussies. Wellens lacked pace bringing the ball forward, seemed unusually brittle in defence and was withdrawn in the second half of the semi-final after an error strewn display. Mind you, playing behind England's defensive line is hardly something to steady the nerves. 4

Jon Wilkin - Included for his pace and ability to break the line - attributes he clearly possesses - but he had few opportunities to showcase them in Australia. 5

So there you have it - of course rugby league is a team game and these individual ratings don't really take into account some of the problems that blighted England as a whole.

The defence was awful, the kicking game lacked any kind of pattern (or, being charitable, was terribly executed), the core skills were disappointing and, against Australia and in the first match against the Kiwis, the team lacked aggression.

After months of looking forward to this World Cup I am crushingly disappointed.


  • Comment number 1.

    just about right, cant argue with your ratings

  • Comment number 2.






  • Comment number 3.

    bigmal stop using capital letters, its doesnt grab attention and noone can be bothered reading it all.

    cant disagree with ratings. burrow's kicking was simply awful, id take a mark off for that

  • Comment number 4.

    Paul, were your scores out of 20?

  • Comment number 5.

    I generally agree with most of the ratings apart from Gareth Ellis. I thought he was possibly our best player throughout, and any hope of winning in the semi evaporated when he left the field.

    Strong with the ball in hand and excellent in defence, I think 6 is a bit harsh and I think he will do well next year in the NRL.

    I also think you were kind giving Calderwood 4. I can not recall a more embarrassing sight in an england shirt than him. Never troubled anyone in attack and had less of a chance of scoring than the queen. And what is on his head? Take a leaf out of seniors book and take it all off Mark. It;s not a good look.

  • Comment number 6.

    That England would come up short against the Aussies was no surprise, what really discappointed me was our performances against the kiwis. I expected us to beat them fairly confortably.

    Ade Gardner couldnt catch a ball, Higham and Roby couldnt pass one. No-one could kick it out of hand and as for our centres... I can't remember a worse defensive display..

    Most of the time it was our own play not the opposition that undid us. The constant knock ons (in the semi) gave up field postions and the kiwis just played basic rugby to score.

    Your assesments were fairly accurate, I felt sorry for Morley, Peacock and Graham but the rest got what they deserved.

  • Comment number 7.

    It seems to me there are only 5 main differences between the Australian RL team and the English one:

    1) The Australians can throw the ball from one player to another (without dropping it).

    2) When receiving the ball from a pass, the Australians are moving onto the ball, rather than standing still.

    3) The Australians can kick the ball into space on the last tackle, rather than at opposition players. And if close to the try line they have ideas how to score tries on the last tackle.

    4) The Australians can tackle players who run at them and avoid having their defensive line broken.

    5) When tackled the Australians don't lose the ball forwards.

    Easily rectified im my opinion!

    NB. Paul - your last sentence should be "this" not "his")

  • Comment number 8.

    Think you are being kind to some players with your ratings.
    I don't mean to single him out but although like you said he ducked under tackles, took the line on, etc. Burrow didn't look to have the organisation of the England team which we desperately needed. There was no shape or structure to the attack which a great halfback should bring to international rugby. Agility and explosive speed are a great thing to have for a scrum half and I love to see them taking on the line, but these things individual skills should come second for a half back and the team first.
    Also if Gardner and Calderwood are the best 2 (fit) wingers we have in England there is something seriously wrong.

  • Comment number 9.

    Excellent post from Sotherner.
    I would say McGuire was worse than 7 - very poor kicking game and fairly ordinary running game. OK he scored a well created try in the last game but that was more about a well thought of training ground move than technical ability.
    I agree that Gardner and Calderwood were awful. With Gardner it just shows how much he relies on the imports they have at centre at Saints. He has no real pace and was very shaky in defence.
    It was a big mistake to have so many small players in the side - Roby, Higham, Burrow, McGuire - who all rely on a good running game but offer little more. We just don't seem to have any half backs who can kick well and work the team around them and get us to score tries as Smith/Thurston and Lockyer do.
    I completely agree with Ricky Stuart's comments about imports. I'm really glad someone has had the balls to come out say that because to be quite frank this world cup has been a disaster for the english and highly embarassing. I hope Lewis realises this.

  • Comment number 10.

    Now then,

    Lots of great and well-informed comments.

    The people who talk about the lack of an old-style half-back are absolutely correct.

    I was talking with my father-in-law about England's campaign and he was lamenting the lack of a scrum-half or stand-off who can guide his team around the park by creating openings with a well-timed pass or kicking well with ball in hand. An old-style midfield general like Gregory or, dare I say it, Schofield.

    I like Burrow and McGuire but they are opportunist players, reacting to breaks and punching through holes. They are individuals and do not control their team the way Lockyer does for the Aussies. At Leeds they have Sinfield to take charge of kicking duties but he didn't really impress in that regard in Australia.

    The reason why I think Burrow and McGuire both had a decent tournament is because, unlike many of their team-mates, they played to their strengths and di what could be expected of them. I never expected them to suddenly become footballers who orchestrate and create for others.

  • Comment number 11.


    Love the blog but have to disagree with you here on Burrow and McGuire (a subject on which you have already responded, admittedly).

    Just on the subject of kicking - kicking is absolutely vital to a good half-back's play. Love or him or hate him, when on song St Helens' Sean Long has majestic tactical kicking (his conversion skills are more debatable!); all the Australian 7s possess this too.

    It's not an option to go down under with a scrum-half who can't orchestrate the game. For him and the stand-off, that's their job, not to dart through under swinging arms and make opportunist breaks (this is a bonus). I think reputation enhanced was the wrong phrase - Burrow pulled off one cheeky little move, but what will be remembered is the total failure of the half-backs - Pryce, Burrow and McGuire - to direct the team. The Australians weren't impressed and we on the home front weren't either.

  • Comment number 12.


    I take your point very much on board - the only thing I would say is that we already knew they would not play like Longy and could not expect them to do so out there.

    If one of them was playing alongside someone like Long - as Pryce does at Saints - it might have been a slightly different story (though we still had loads of other weaknesses).

    I always thought it was a shame we didn't really see the best of Long at the top level and I would have taken him if he was available. I once interviewed him and every now and again could hear a strange swooshing sound. When I played the tape back I realised he was obviously playing a round of golf and the swoosh was him playing a shot. I don't think there are many sporting stars who would do an interview on the golf course.

    I think it is a real problem that we don't really have many 6 or 7s coming through in the mould of Long or the other top halves from down the years. With this in mind, what do you think of Kyle Eastmond?

  • Comment number 13.

    Of course, it was Sean Long who orchestrated that fantastic win we had against Australia in Sydney in 2006 but as a sign of his temperament he then went and left that tour so that we lost the rest of the games. There have also been many occasions when Long has failed in international rugby league.

    I think your rating for Morley is a little generous. What has happened to the guy who at one time was one of the most feared forwards in the NRL?

  • Comment number 14.

    Not too sure about that staroxfordian. I thought Morley put it about a bit during the tournament, particularly the semi-final. Besides, it is difficult to be so assertive when the defence is being over-run more or less constantly.

    As for Long - yep, the temperament was the big issue. An international coach has to be able to trust his players both on and off the pitch.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't agree with the comments on here about Sean Long. Apart from one performance he consistently failed to deliver for GB&I - in one particular Ashes series he consistently kicked the ball straight down the throat of Minichello time after time. Like many of our current squad, he may perform in SL but sadly fails to back those performances up at Test level.

    I also notice that you've gone easy in your critique of Jon Wilkin... Is that anything to do with him being a fellow BBC contributor on this website?

  • Comment number 16.

    genuisjellybean - how dare you!

    No, I just think that he was one of that bunch of players neither good nor awful but somewhere in between.

    What would you have given him?

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Paul,

    Good blog and on the whole I agree with your assessment. I think you're being generous to Ade Gardner. While Calderwood was poor, he wasn't as bad as Gardner who had a nightmare.

    I also think you're being generous to James Graham who failed to reproduce his super league form and was desperately poor throughout the tournament. You gave him the same score as Ellis - that's very over-stating his contribution (or understating his lack of it).

    You make the point about McGuire and Burrow being runners and line breakers rather than kickers, and Kevin Sinfield doing it well at Leeds but not really doing it at international level. I think the reason he performs better at Leeds is because the first receiver / half back positions at Leeds are very well organised and Sinfield does the organising, however for England it's a disaster. It's all very well having the captain in the ruck, but we need leadership where it counts, at first receiver. I know I'm gonna get absolutely destroyed for saying this, but I think we should make Sinfield England captain, it would bring the best out of him and his kicking and allow him to bring order to our half backs and first receiver positions.

    People are going to go nuts at that idea, but I think it would work. Sinfield would perform much better if he was able to call the shots.

  • Comment number 18.

    Paul - no offence!

    Wilkin did get two matches to prove his worth - more than Jones-Buchanan, so using JJB as a benchmark I would rate him as a 4 (and no I'm not a Rhino's fan!).

    To be honest I'd knock one off each of your ratings. I don't want to single Wilkin out, but he does unfortunately epitomise the type of player that our domestic competition is now producing - decent players who can look outstanding on a warm summer evening at home to the Castleford's of this world, but no way is he international class and at 26 nor is he likely to be.

    For the performance we got out of some of our players, we would have been better off taking the Westermans, Lawrences and McCarthy-Scarsbrooks. At least when a player that young fails, he has time on his side to learn and to develop into a better player.

  • Comment number 19.

    Paul, I agree with most of your ratings except for Ellis. I thought he had a very good tournament and, if others had shown his committment and desire, we'd probably be looking forward to the final this weekend. The backs can't be faulted more than to say they're just not good enough (I'm talking 1-5). I think the half-back pairing of McGuire and Burrow was the best we have available. Sinfield can break a tackle or beat a man in Super League, so why should we expect him to do that in the World Cup? His defense is very solid though. Wellens? A liability due to the speed of international football. Calderwood? Why hasn't anybody called him for what he a word.."windy". He was absolutely terrified in both games against the Kiwis! Senior? He bottled it a bit for me too as did poser Ade Gardner. Lee Smith would have been my pick for bottle alone. I thought Higham was better than a 6 and also Purdham showed up in defense.

    But at the end of the day, Super League, much like the Premier League, is a sell-out to quick-fix, bring in the imports. We still put out Senior and Gleeson; the Aussies could put out 5 or 6 centre pairings better than those 2. Gleeson did ok but he lacks power at this level.

    I watched the 2 Grand Finals and the difference is skill, strength, power and pace is blindingly obvious. Until we can match that, then forget it.

    Thanks for (hopefully) listening.

  • Comment number 20.

    Sorry I meant Sinfield "can't" break a tackle!

  • Comment number 21.

    It's too late in Sinfield's career to be building a team around him - he'll probably only have two or three more seasons at the top level.
    Not only do we not have any quality genuine halfbacks but as also mentioned we don't have any special outside backs. English guys with serious pace like the Aussies Folau, Inglis and Slater just don't seem to exist in Super League. Instead we have Wellens who is solid but lacks the class for international rl; Gardner who plays outside a quality australian at saints so is made to look good and Calderwood who does have raw pace but little else. Certainly a cause for concern.

  • Comment number 22.

    and Senior who is past his best

  • Comment number 23.

    Whatever the reasons, for many years now the Aussies have been producing these outstandingly skilful players. Do they have a special factory over there that manufactures all these great half-backs, centres and full-backs? Some of the contributors here have praised Sean Long's ability, but don't overlook the fact that when we squeezed in tha rare win in 2006, Stuart rested Thurston. Longy doesn't match any of the Aussie halves since the 80's: Kenny, Stirling, Lewis, Daley, Stuart himself, Fittler, Johns, and I bet there are a few others I've overlooked. Oh yes Lockyear! Several of them were reckoned as the best ever at the time, but then next year comes another one off the conveyor belt. And that's only one postion. I can understand Stuart's genuine concern, because for the good of the game the Aussies need some real competition.

  • Comment number 24.

    flyingEurotrash - a few people have said I've been harsh on Ellis. I thought long and hard about his rating, debating between six and seven. I really rate him as a player and don't think he disappointed, I just don't think he was on top form either. And in saying that I mean by his own high standards.

    I really thought our forwards as a collective would be slightly more dominant in some of the games. Our back division - well, it was always about hoping things worked out and when you have to resort to that the writing is already on the wall.

  • Comment number 25.

    combackdevils - Geoff Toover, Alfie Langer, Scott Prince, Matt Orford to name a few more from recent years. I'm sure we could go on for ages in terms of players who would have been established GB players.

  • Comment number 26.

    Re Post 18 ,Don't forget geniusjellybean the 'castleford's of this world' you refer to actually beat both the Rhinos and Saints!!
    Regarding Fletch's ratings i think i would have to agree with geniusjellybean that you could knock a mark off every one(except Peacock,who i thought was outstanding).
    My problem with the English performances was that we didn't show enough aggression,where were the little niggles that upset teams,Ok you may give a couple of penalties away but Imho if it knocks a team out of its rythem(sp?) then its worth it in my book.A prime example in the game against the Aussies calderwood tackled Billy Slater late when he had scored ,Slater got up and threw the ball and pushed Calderwood ,What did the English winger do ? Turned his back and walked away.......Should have least clocked him!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm confused. What do you base giving Graham 6 and Peacock 8?

    The stats I have suggest otherwise.

    James Graham 31 tackles 143m
    Jamie Peacock 34 tackles 107m

    Im also confused about 7 for McGuire and Burrow. 2 Players that blew attacking opportunities at every occasion. Yes McGuire scored from a deft pass from Graham and a good kick, but on neither time was he creator, and every opportunity he had to create he failed to do so. Furthermore the kicking game was atrocious, how can any half back get 7 when the kicking game was so atrocious.

    I agree Pryce was no where near his best, but again unfortunately his stats show he was no worse than either of burrow or mcguire in the first games he played in. The last game you can hardly count considering he was shifted to full back after 2 minutes.

    I may be wrong but you may also remember both of Ade's tries came from passes from inside Gleeson (Roby & 1 other). Gleeson 7, yes he can run lines but international center - NEVER.

  • Comment number 28.


    Enjoyed your player review and agee with
    the majority of it. Think Smiths overall coaching abilities have to be seriously questioned as good players don't become
    bad ones as quickly as it appeared in our
    WC games. Some just didn't step up to the
    mark when needed, Leon Pryce and James
    Roby must be hugely dissapointed with their
    performances but I'm not blaming these two
    guys. I think only Burrow, Gleeson and Peacock can return honestly believing they
    couldn't have done much more for the cause. Maybe the players were just burnt
    out after a long SL season and perhaps the
    Saints players were still carrying the burden
    of losing the GF.
    Either way Tony Smith certainly didn't produce what was required of him. Should
    he pay the price for the failures? Probably,
    but there aren't many quality coaches ready
    and able to jump into the seat I'm afraid.
    Then should he keep the job because of a
    lack of suitable replacements? Probably not.
    I do think the English game will take a bit of
    time to recover from this shambles and some top players reputations have taken a
    severe battering. The interesting thing will
    be which ones return to action in 2009 ready for battle and which ones carry a
    WC hangover.

  • Comment number 29.

    Oh and finally

    Paul Wellens, apparently the snail.

    Would you be suprised if his kick returns had been better than his opposite number??

    Paul Wellens 13runs 112m

    Lance Hohaia 13runs 84m

    I swear sometimes you make it up!!

  • Comment number 30.

    Hohaia wasn't particularly impressive and we didn't lose the games against NZ because of a poorer fullback. However Wellens offered very little offensively and was completely outclassed by Slater.

    I think something that we have to remember about the whole situation of English Rugby League, is that fundamentally it is not a particularly big or popular sport in this country so we will probably always struggle against Australia. Over there it's the main winter sport in Brisbane and Sydney, whereas here the sport is tiny compared to football, even in the north. It's perhaps a bit like England taking on US in american football - although obviously that's to a far great extent than RL.

  • Comment number 31.

    Overall we can more or less match the Aussies in the forwards, but I think we failed in this tournament because we lack flair at the halfs and we don't have any centres that can break the line or create havoc with their running. The Aussies also have an extra man with Slater hitting the line like he does. Wellens can't do that and even if he did, couldn't catch a cold with his lack of pace.

    Keith Senior is a big fella, but I don't think he runs his weight and he possesses no craft at all. His defensive positioning for the first two games was awful. I knew better when I played in the National Conference not to get drawn in like that! Elementary mistakes like that right through the tournament really hurt. But at the end of the day, even without all the schoolyard errors, I don't think we could have raised our game for three consecutive matches to compete with the Aussies this week.

    Back to the drawing board but let's start developing our youth and encouraging them to play with flair and to take chances.

  • Comment number 32.

    As an Aussie who wants to see strong International football it was frustrating to see how disorganised the English attack looked. Fiji were more organised and had more players in motion!

    Watching the few games of Superleague we get over here I'm convinced the majority of English players are better than the tripe they served up over here, so whats the reason for it?

    Some of the blame must surely be pointed at Tony Smith? How can you go into a world cup with no visible attack structure? Why would you pick a side with so many small players? Surely Stuart Fielden would have been a better option than a few of the guys out here?

  • Comment number 33.

    Wally Rooster,

    I agree that Smith must carry some of the can. England didn't have any direction with the ball in hand; I absolutely agree, and that would seem to lay with the coaches. We didn't seem to have a gameplan or any set moves involving the backs. It all appeared al-lib (and embarrassing at times) and makes you wonder what the team accomplished in training sessions between games.

    It was probably a big mistake too playing fringe players against France in the warm-up to the World Cup. At least the first half of that game should have been the projected 13 to start against PNG just to go through some basic moves and get a feel for each other.

    I too believe that Super League has good English players and should produce a better England team. But one of the big problems with sport at international level in England is that they stick with the old tried and trusted regime and are very reluctant to blood young players. Case in point Senior and Gleeson. They're just the same old show and the opposition coaches don't have too much to worry about the threat these two pose. The Aussies are putting out 19 and 21 year old centres time after time.

  • Comment number 34.

    Sorry ad-lib!

  • Comment number 35.


    Now that I can finally have a lie in on a Saturday morning and think about watching that shower under perform week after week my thoughts turn to Great Britain RL team. Do you think that the GB team should include the likes of Scott Logan (Scotland prop), Ian Henderson(Scotland hooker),Michael Robertson (Scotland fullback/wing),Pat Richards (Ireland wing/fullback),Damien Blanch(Ireland wing), and other non British born players but are now representing British International rugby league teams?They are much better options than what we(England) have in those positions. I think we those above guys in place we would stand in a much stronger position to beat the likes of Australia and NZ over a test series.

  • Comment number 36.

    sandstones_finest - No, I don't.

    To be honest, I was gutted when the GB shirt was retired but now that decision has been made I think we have to press on and develop the individual nations.

    I suppose, looking at it objectively, if the game is to grow internationally then we have to start developing the likes of Scotland, Ireland and Wales so that one day they can hopefully become decent sides at the top level.

  • Comment number 37.


    In response though, if those guys are playing and representing British sides then surely they should be considered to represent Great Britain. I also didn't think the GB shirt was indefinately retired. I thought they were planning more rugby union style tours in the future.

    So to that end with GB in mind you could assume that some of the Australian born guys would have preffered to play for Australia e.g Jarryd Hayne representing Fiji has stated he was gutted he was overlooked by Australia and also Michael Robertson (Scotland) ditto. But if the Aussie/Brits are now committed to play for British teams then surely they should be considered for the GB team.

    I know its short term and we would prefer British born players playing for GB but its a long way off and it would definately add some much needed quality to the GB ranks. The Henderson brothers were definately committed to the Scotland cause and the Australian born Irishmen were also the same getting tatoo's to show their commitment to the Irish cause.

    I think one of the problems is that because the GB team is made up of English players it feels like the GB team is just an England team. So maybe the Aussie/Brits would feel like they were playing for England.But if we could involve true British players in the team set up e.g. Jonathan Davies, Brian Carney then we could mould a British feel to the team so it wouldn't be so English.

    But going back to your comments with regards the progression of the developing
    nations teams then the Aussie born players must stay with their chosen teams to help them become succesfull and therefore attract homegrown players. Would Ireland have reached the QF's without the Aussie boys and off the back of that it raised the profile of the team in the Irish national media.

    Anyway gutted overall with the England team performance and maybe i'm clutching at straws but as a proud Englishman and Brit I would love to stick it to the Aussies for once! And maybe your last paragraph should also apply to England!

  • Comment number 38.

    Great Britain rugby league team no longer exists and it is very unlikely it will be brought back certainly in the near future .

    Just because a player plays for an english club does not make him english.

    Ireland did well at the world cup but would not have done worse than england if playing against australia and new zealand. Very few of the Ireland players would have made the squad if they had been availabe (in fact many probably were available for england since they are of mixed descent, but did not make the squad).
    It shows the gulf in standard in international rugby league between australia and the worst teams in the world cup. In next year's four nations france are going to be absolutely destroyed by australia.

  • Comment number 39.

    would have done worse than england

  • Comment number 40.

    Love the mark for Pryce. But where did the three come from ? The fact that he put his shirt on the right way round?

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with most of what is said but how you can you rate Burrow with 7!?!

    He was supposed to be marshalling the players and linking with he stand off, Pryce and McGuire, but failed in every showing. He may have made a few runs and ducked a few challenges but all in all he was 5 at best.

    I personally thought his game has been found out for what it is. A one trick pony with a poor kick.

    Same with McGuire, if your scoring them at 7, surely we must have beat NZ or Aus in some way I didn't see. McGuire against NZ in the semi was ineffective and looked lost on the pitch!

    Obviously Paul Fletcher is a Leeds fan and doesn't now how to be objective.

    I am saints fan and can't argue with any of his ratings for any of the saints players, if anything they are a tad generous....

  • Comment number 42.

    i might be a bit late BUT was a shocking display by most players, i spent big money going to watch and was dealt half hearted crap from primo donnas ............ needed more Hull FC players in the team, hold on more? i mean at least one:P ......... geeezussss we signed calderwood? who is the Hull FC talent scout ffs:P


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