Playing for your country is one of the greatest feelings for a sportsman.
Knowing that you have been acknowledged to be good enough to be a national hero must fill these representatives with the utmost pride. However, for some Super League greats, the chance of playing for their country just doesn’t occur for one reason or another.
Here are five that have missed or are missing out.
He could yet play for England at this year’s World Cup, but Liam Watts should have represented his country years ago. Consistently at the top of his game for both Hull FC and Castleford, the prop forward has become one of Super League’s most impressive players. The 30-year-old has turned out for England Knights as well as the England 9s, but that has not yet culminated in a real cap for the main side which, for many people, is a travesty.
It seems incredible, but the 1997 Man of Steel James Lowes never represented England. Of course, the hooker did turn out five times for Great Britain, but that England cap was never forthcoming. Lowes won two Grand Finals, one World Club Challenge and two Challenge Cups at Bradford between 1996 and 2003 which makes it even more remarkable that the number nine didn’t earn a call-up.
Another remarkable absence from the England set-up, Keiron Cunningham never ran out in the red and white despite his substantial success in a St Helens shirt. He won five Super League Grand Finals, seven Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges over a period of 16 years, but that wasn’t enough to earn England plaudits. Instead, the hooker made 13 appearances for Wales as well as 14 for Great Britain, but was behind Tony Smith and then fellow Saint James Roby in the England pecking order.
Yet another talismanic star that turned out for Wales instead of England, Lee Briers was Warrington’s lynchpin for 16 seasons, registering over 2,500 points and winning three Challenge Cups during that time. The wily halfback did make one appearance for Great Britain, but 23 for the Welsh. Of course, with the likes of Paul Deacon, Sean Long, Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire in front of him, Briers was always going to find it difficult to breach the England squad, but to not even earn one cap was a travesty to say the least.
He did actually make one appearance for England in 2012, but a fall-out with then national boss Steve McNamara led Brough to abandon his England allegiance and switch to Scotland. From there, the halfback registered 24 appearances for the Bravehearts, scoring almost 150 points. But, it was a massive loss to England given Brough’s Super League form at Huddersfield; he won the Man of Steel in 2013, the year of the World Cup where England fell out at the semi-final stages. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but with Brough in tow, the national side may well have gone one further in tournaments.