There's been plenty to admire in the World Cup – but the RLIF need to get a grip and build on its success

There's been plenty to admire in the World Cup – but the RLIF need to get a grip and build on its success

There has been much to admire and be positive about in the World Cup so far – now the sport has to build on that in coming years.

You’d like to think that Tonga’s win against New Zealand changes the dynamic of international rugby league.

Instead of having three tier one nations we could now have four.

The key to their sustained success is that the players who have chosen Tonga over other nations stick with them – and regular, meaningful internationals is crucial for that.

This is the main issue for international rugby league to tackle.

England face Papua New Guinea next (Image: PA Wire)

We still don’t properly know what the international calendar for next year looks like never mind long-term.

There needs to be an effort from both sides of the world to put international rugby league to the forefront of the sport, with a detailed and structured calendar for years ahead.

Until that happens, those players eligible for more than one country will choose the one that has the most regular, meaningful fixtures.

That’s down to the administrators, not the players.

There could be a Pacific Cup where the likes of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea get the chance to stage games in their own countries.

It’s the same in the northern hemisphere – the home nations need to be playing regularly, as well as France, Lebanon and Italy.

Have Tonga announced their arrival on the world stage? (Image: Getty Images AsiaPac)

The International Federation needs get a grip of the game and make sure these things happen between now and the World Cup.

The move to having 16 nations in the next competition is needed to simplify the format and avoid the scenario where Ireland win two games from three and are eliminated, and Samoa secure just one draw and go through.

We have a tendency in rugby league to over-complicate systems – let’s just get to four groups of four with the top two qualifying.

If somebody gets beat 80-0, so what – other sports don’t worry about it.

PNG will provide a stern test for England (Image: Getty)

We can be obsessed in rugby league with everything being competitive, but sometimes it’s more important to have systems that are fair and easy for people to understand.

England face Papua New Guinea in the quarter-finals on Sunday and the group understands how big a challenge it is.

I’ve played against PNG myself in the past – they run hard, hit hard, tackle hard and you know what you’re going into and you know you’re going to be sore afterwards.

Everyone needs to bring their best game for the full 80 minutes, not just 40 – that’s the key for England for the rest of this tournament.

Betfred – Proud to sponsor England

(Image: Betfred)

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