FORMER St Helens coach Daniel Anderson has bemoaned the lack of progress in Super League since the left the competition.
The straight-talking Australian - back in the UK to coach the Exiles in their two Tests against England - believes English 13-a-side has “plateaued” during his time away.
Anderson’s comments echo former Great Britain captain and another ex-St Helens gaffer, Ellery Hanley.
Hanley spoke out during a recent trip to Australia to be inducted into the Wests Tigers’ hall of fame, where he told journalists the NRL is “a million miles ahead” of Super League.
Anderson, in England for the international origin series, claimed Super League had “plateaued” since he left St Helens in 2008.
However, Hull KR’s Australian head coach Craig Sandercock has sprung to the defence of Super League in the wake of mounting criticism of the English game.
Sandercock, who is in his first season in Super League after stints at Manly Sea Eagles and Newcastle Knights, says he has been impressed by the standard of the competition and refutes Hanley’s claim that only four teams can win a trophy.
“I think it’s a great competition,” Sandercock told the Press Association. “There’s no longer only two or three sides.
“Catalan, Huddersfield, Hull FC and to a lesser extent us, I suppose, have shown that there are teams that are capable of beating other sides on their day.
“There’s some real good young players, the likes of Kallum Watkins (Leeds) and John Bateman (Bradford) have really impressed me.
“I’ve been very impressed to tell the truth, it’s possibly better than I thought it would be.”
England are currently playing a two-match series against the Exiles, a team drawn by Anderson from the cream of overseas talent plying their trade in Super League, in a bid to hone their preparations for the 2013 World Cup which will be held in the northern hemisphere.
Hanley says England will never beat the Australians “in my lifetime” but Sandercock believes there are more reasons to be optimistic, although he insists it is difficult to compare Super League with the Australian game.
“The NRL is totally different,” he added. “For a start there’s two referees so the rucks are a lot cleaner and also it’s a lot more defensive driven.
“Over here we do like to play a lot more attacking style.
“There’s two completely different games so it’s hard to compare but hopefully, come the World Cup, England will field a really good side and give Australia a run for their money.”