Former Great Britain international Stuart Fielden believes Super League’s ‘fall from grace’ and the increase in financial power of the NRL means England won’t ever be able to compete at international level.
Samoa, who are made up of mostly NRL players, dumped England out of the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday to set up a final against Australia this weekend.
It means there will likely be only two Super League players on the pitch during Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, with the other 32 players all plying their trade in the NRL.
Speaking on the reasons for this, Fielden told Serious About Rugby League: “Super League has had a fall from grace and that’s for one simple reason, the money.
“We just can’t compete with the NRL, you’re seeing that now. We have significantly less money over here and with less money you have lower standards.
“The best players in the world are not in Super League. The best players in the world are all in Australia, and that includes the best English players and if they are not there now, they will be in a couple of years.
“I have spoken about this before but there was a time when the best Australian players would come here, and that would make our home-grown players better – it would also make our competition better.”
Fielden continued to elaborate on his point, believing that the huge pool of NRL players not only Australia, but also Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand, have to choose from makes it impossible for England to compete.
He added: “The only positive with the best Aussie players staying in Australia is that you are going to have to grow all your own home-grown talent.
“I would like to say it would force teams here to increase their focus on their academy so they get better, but even with this your base is only as big as your top.
“The amount of people playing rugby league is all in the north and it’s not exactly massive.
“Your base is only as big as your top and everyone in Australia plays rugby league, and in two of the biggest states in Queensland and New South Wales.
“It’s like football and the Premier League here, everybody plays it all across the country. Rugby league and the NRL is the same there because a big percentage of the population plays it.
“The percentage of people of Australia’s population that play rugby league would be massive compared to ours, so they are always going to have a higher top.
“They have more people playing the sport so you are going to have more people progress through at the highest level, we can’t compete with that.”