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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 November 2006, 16:02 GMT
Dave Woods' unseen Tri-Nations

BBC Sport's Dave Woods
By Dave Woods
BBC Sport in Sydney

Great Britain players
Jamie Peacock contemplates defeat while others seek help from above

It's as predictable as a hangover after a big drink.

Sure, there were joyful moments along the way, but those memories are now dimmed by that awful sickening feeling in the stomach.

We just weren't good enough for long enough.

Catch the Aussies, even the Kiwis, on a bad day when we are flying and we might win. Sydney was that moment.

But the rule of thumb is that despite our best endeavours, we can't quite compete.

There is a very good argument that says if Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston had been on our side we might be in the Tri-Nations final now, because in most other departments, especially the forwards, we were a match for the Aussies.

But that's the point - Australia keep producing players of the quality of Lockyer and Thurston, and Johns and Langer and Stewart and Daley and Fittler and Sterling and Kenny and Lewis. We don't.

So what do we do? Start another inquest into how British rugby league can get back on a level pegging with Australia and New Zealand.

What's the point?

We've done more autopsies on the corpse of British RL than Quincy managed in a career, and nothing seems to have changed.

It's great to have the likes of Jamie Lyon pushing up the standards, but there are too many journeymen filling the playing rosters

But it has to change. We have to make international rugby league the real deal for the future of the game in England.

The travelling media pack will say to a man and woman that normally indifferent sports desks have been positively enthusiastic about rugby league in the last four weeks.

A Great Britain team playing against Australia or New Zealand sparks more interest in the sport than any number of St Helens-Leeds or Wigan-Hull matches.

It's only when rugby league flies the national flag that it becomes a truly national sport. So ignore the club chairmen who tell you that domestic rugby league is the be-all and end-all.

It's the international game that brings the major interest, and with it the sponsorship and profile.

The administrators and the coaches need to sit down together and come up with an agreed approach to ensure that the Great Britain - and indeed France - cause is a high priority.

In the short term, we need to find a way of reducing imports in Super League.

It's great to have the likes of Jamie Lyon pushing up the standards, but there are too many journeymen filling the playing rosters and preventing the development of junior talent.

We need to increase the intensity of Super League. That's easier said than done and whether getting rid of relegation is the answer, I'm yet to be convinced.

There can't have been many games more intense than Wakefield v Castleford last year.

Darren Lockyer
Australia's supply of players like Lockyer makes the difference

The salary cap has helped and those that flaunt it should be given the stiffest possible penalties.

But ultimately, we need to expand the gene pool.

In New South Wales, rugby league is THE sport, so most of the elite athletes play the game. We are still too dependent on small pockets of player production in Wigan, Hull, St Helens and Leeds.

We have to tap the talent of a wider area. Wales, for example, would seem to be a prime area for cultivation.

The sooner we get a Super League team there, acting as a beacon for potential stars, the better.

We can only keep our fingers crossed that Harlequins can soon start to produce a slow moving conveyor belt of indigenous London talent, too.

We can highlight the emergence of the likes of James Roby, James Graham and Kirk Yeaman as reasons to be upbeat about our chances for the World Cup in 2008.

But for those three, there are probably 33 of similar potential coming through the Australian game.

There are any number of areas in which we can help improve the chances of success for the national team.

Or, we could just do nothing.

Australia 33-10 Great Britain
18 Nov 06 |  International
Australia v Great Britain photos
18 Nov 06 |  Rugby League
Dave Woods' unseen Tri-Nations
14 Nov 06 |  International
Long leaves GB Tri-Nations tour
13 Nov 06 |  International
New Zealand 34-4 Great Britain
11 Nov 06 |  Rugby League
Australia 12-23 Great Britain
04 Nov 06 |  Rugby League
New Zealand 18-14 Great Britain
28 Oct 06 |  International

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