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“It’s sad” – Former Sky Sports commentator says Super League clubs are ‘too quick’ to sign Australian players

If there is one thing Super League has always had since 1996, it’s an array of overseas players, with St Helens, Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors able to attract some of the very biggest names in the sport from down under.

What has changed though is the number of overseas players each club in Super League has, with the UK’s top-flight bringing in more players from the NRL now than ever before, despite quota rules.

This includes mid-season, with Brad Schneider the revelation mid-season signing of 2023 so far having come in and helped Hull KR reach the Challenge Cup Final – the half-back arriving from Canberra to kick the winning drop-goal in the semi-final against Wigan, having already done the same the previous week in the league against Leeds.

Despite his heroics, former lead Sky Sports commentator Eddie Hemmings says it’s sad that Super League clubs always turn to the NRL when they need a mid-season signing, telling former Sky colleague Mike Stephenson on his podcast that he hopes one day it can change.

‘Stevo’ initially said: “There is no doubt Schneider is the real deal. No two ways about it. It just shows you once again that the English clubs are still quite happy to come down to Australia and say, we need someone that’s exceptional, a little bit above the mark.

“Hull KR, they’ve found their man, and what a way to do it with a drop goal. I love the drop goal, you know that Eddie.”

To which Hemming responded: “I must say personally that I do find it sad in a way that when things go wrong injury-wise, suspension-wise or whatever for clubs up here in the Northern Hemisphere, the first thing they do is pick up the phone and talk to the agents in Australia.

“Wouldn’t it be lovely to go to the supermarket and pick up an English centre, a young English stand-off, a young English scrum-half, and we would be talking about them making an impact rather than an Aussie who’s come up from the other side of the world. It’s only a personal view.”

To which Stevo responded: “I understand that and I totally agree, but it’s like having two fruit bowls and one bowl is piled high. And on the other bowl, there’s very little in it. Maybe a few raspberries left over.

“I’m afraid we are not doing enough. I keep on about it. We do not do enough to bring through the youth, the junior levels to a bigger and better standard than we have in Australia.

“Until we start doing that, they’ll always be poaching the Australian players rather than looking on their home turf because if there’s nothing in the bowl, then there’s very little to choose from.

“We’ve got to keep banging away at trying to make sure we’ve got backing, that we’ve got finances to be able to keep all the junior clubs, the youth clubs. We’ve got to keep them going and we’ve got to keep attracting people and we’ve got to attack the schools.

“There’s not many schools in the UK who have rugby league as their major, major sport. We’ve just spoken about how the Leigh Leopards, how wonderful it is, and hopefully they are going round to all the schools in the area, even into Wigan, Wigan area, and just saying, you know, let’s keep, we’ve got to keep building our game.

“We call it the greatest game of all, but sometimes we don’t have the wherewithal to make sure it’s the greatest game of all.”

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