Jermaine McGillvary: Huddersfield winger says English rugby league has 'declined'

Jermaine McGillvary
McGillvary played for England in the 2017 World Cup final

The standard of English rugby league on the international stage has been criticised by Jermaine McGillvary, who said the quality has “decline”.

McGillvary was not selected by boss Shaun Wane in his first game in charge and played for the All Stars instead.

“We need a good international game for this sport to grow,” said McGillvary.

Wane’s first game was beset by issues including players missing due to Super League games taking place this weekend, playing in the NRL, as well as outbreaks of Covid-19 at several clubs.

With travel restrictions in place due to the ongoing pandemic, England faced a side made up of the best overseas players based in Super League, as well as eligible players not picked by Wane.

Hull’s in-form Jake Connor and Wigan scrum-half Jackson Hastings were alongside McGillvary, who featured for England in the 2017 World Cup final defeat by Australia, but was told on Monday he was not in the squad.

He sent a reminder of his talents with a crucial try in the thrilling 26-24 victory in Warrington, a match played in front of 4,000 spectators.

England’s previous fixture was in November 2018, when they were thrashed 34-0 by New Zealand at Elland Road.

Combined All Stars
Jackson Hastings lifted the winners’ trophy as captain of the All Stars

“I think we need to build international rugby a lot better,” said McGillvary. “This round should have been on a standalone weekend and enabled England and the All Stars to pick the best players and put the best game possible on. Make it the best of the best on both sides.

“But as long as we’re not playing games, it’s not going to grow. I’ve been playing for 12 or 13 years now, and the sport hasn’t progressed since I came through, I’ll be honest.

“If anything, it’s actually declined a little bit with the players and how it’s run.

“I think it could be managed a lot better and hopefully in years to come, this can be a regular fixture.

“Super League and the Rugby Football League (RFL) need to come together, bang some heads and sort this out. It seems like they’re fighting against each other and it shouldn’t be like that, it should be all for one to grow the game.

“It needs to get the two organisations to come together and sort a proper international schedule out.”

Meanwhile, a decision on whether the World Cup will still take place in England this year or be postponed until 2022 will be made next week.

Asked about the impact if the tournament did not take place, McGillvary told BBC Sport: “It would be devastating.

“I’ve heard Australia and New Zealand may not come across and you can’t have a tournament without those two. They’re the pinnacle and they’re the teams England want to dethrone.”

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