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Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Clubs 'must help England develop'

England players contemplate their elimination from the World Cup
England had a hugely disappointing World Cup campaign

Former rugby league star Jason Robinson says the "inbuilt selfishness" of many Super League clubs needs to change after England's World Cup failure.

Robinson said Super League clubs needed to look at the bigger picture if England are to improve at Test level.

"Two weeks need to be taken out the Super League season for (a warm-up game), if we're serious about improving England's fortunes," said Robinson.

"You would have to overcome the inbuilt selfishness of the clubs to do that."

England, who flew out to Australia with high hopes, were a major disappointment at the World Cup, winning just one of their four games before falling to defeat against New Zealand in the semi-final.

They conceded 142 points in their four games, with a 52-4 thrashing by Australia handing them their worst ever World Cup defeat.

"The nettle has to be grasped," said Robinson, who won the World Cup in union with England in 2003.

"If we're serious there must be a way to give them more games in the season.

"Why not make use of the quality overseas players in the Super League and form a Rest of the World side, including the likes of Brent Webb and Steve Menzies, to play England?"

Robinson said the preparation of the England rugby union team was in stark contrast to the way their league equivalent.

"They had a warm-up against Wales which was a non-event and then 10 days to prepare for the first game," he said.

"When I played for England at rugby union we had the Six Nations, a summer tour and the autumn internationals to mould a side and get used to playing in a pressure environment.

"Mental toughness is as important as physical toughness and England failed in that department.

Jason Robinson in action for Great Britain
Robinson is a former Great Britain and England rugby league international
"The best solution would be for England to play Australia or New Zealand on a yearly basis in mid-season to go along with a match against France, who at the moment cannot provide England with the necessary competition."

Robinson's comments followed on from Australia coach Ricky Stuart, who said the international game had "suffered terribly" as a result of England's failure at the World Cup.

"Since the last World Cup, England have gone backwards," he said.

"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?"

see also
Stuart fears for England's future
16 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
'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
England 24-36 New Zealand
08 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 52-4 England
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
England 32-22 Papua New Guinea
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
England 74-0 Wales
10 Oct 08 |  Rugby League

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