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Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Sunday, 16 November 2008

Stuart fears for England's future

Ricky Stuart
Aussie coach Ricky Stuart has rounded on the English system

Australia coach Ricky Stuart says England will only become a world force if they slash the number of imported players in Super League.

England's World Cup campaign was ended by New Zealand in the semi-finals.

And Stuart criticised Super League clubs for putting their own interests ahead of the national side.

He said: "I understand why Super League powerbrokers persist in targeting Australian talent, but the negative effect has never been more obvious."

The former Test scrum-half spoke out after England exited the World Cup with a 32-22 loss to New Zealand on Saturday.

Tony Smith's side lost three of their four matches, which included a 52-4 thrashing by Australia in Melbourne.

"After what I have witnessed over the past month from England, the international game has suffered terribly," said Stuart.

"The top-end product, their national side, has been disadvantaged by the scramble from Super League owners, coaches and managers to ensure their own individual success.

"Since the last World Cup, England have gone backwards. There's really no denying it and it's difficult to see any improvement at the elite level while clubs persist in raiding Australia and New Zealand for talent.

"The lack of focus on developing their youth is made clear by the fact that approximately 39% of the players in the English Super League are imports.

"How is that a benefit to the development of their grassroots football? What message does that send to any kids aspiring to play for England?"

Super League clubs have agreed to new regulations limiting their dependence on overseas players but Stuart remains sceptical about the future of the game in the United Kingdom.

"The days of Great Britain producing classy, seasoned footballers seem so long ago," added Stuart.

"Until a limit is placed on imports in the English league, or a shift away from raiding Australia and New Zealand, I just can't see the international game going forward in the UK.

"They have to search for players in their own backyard first."

see also
'Outstanding' Smith stays - Lewis
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
New Zealand 32-22 England
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Coach Smith rues basic mistakes
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
World Cup pictures
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
England v NZ as it happened
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League

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Birmingham Evening Mail England knocked out by Kiwis - 10 hrs ago
Teletext New Zealand 32 England 22 - 10 hrs ago
Rugby Super League England out of World Cup - 10 hrs ago
Rugby Super League Smith keeping his options open - 10 hrs ago
Sydney Morning HeraldEngland stand up to haka, fall to Kiwis - 10 hrs ago
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