England’s World Cup games should have been played in “the heartlands” says ex-St Helens Jon Wilkin

The Rugby League World Cup has had plenty of talking points throughout the tournament.

One was born out of England’s defeat to Samoa last week in the semi-final at the Emirates Stadium which sparked debate over what went wrong for Shaun Wane’s England side as the ex-Wigan Warriors boss failed to guide England back to the World Cup Final as they lost to a Stephen Crichton drop goal in Golden Point.

After the final yesterday between Samoa and Australia, this talking point was revisited and merged with another: the attendances and stadium selections.

Many have questioned some stadium selections and have been unhappy with attendances despite the fact there was a strong 6,000 average in the group stage and always over 15,000 for England games.

However, there was suggestion last night from former St Helens star Jon Wilkin that the England games should have been played in “the heartlands” with only one game at a Super League venue – Wigan Warriors’ DW Stadium – and that was also the only game in a city with a Super League club with the other games played in Newcastle, Bolton, Sheffield and London.

“Let’s just make it as tricky as possible for ourselves,” Wilkin joked about the matter, “I mean the draw was pretty nice, we had a nice draw, we had a great road to the final.

“Play it in the heartlands. I think more games could have been retrospectively played closer to where people want to watch rugby with all that’s going on.”

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