Super League clubs have expressed their concern at comments made by Great Britain and England Rugby League head coach Wayne Bennett, which appear to be in conflict with one its chief aims - to attract and retain the best players in the Super League competition.
In a press conference yesterday (Tuesday) ahead of the Great Britain Lions tour to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, Bennett suggested Canberra’s Ryan Sutton, who signed from Wigan Warriors last year, had improved his chances of international selection because he was playing in the NRL.
As well as his role with Great Britain and England, Bennett is also head coach of the NRL’s South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Super League CEO Robert Elstone said: “Securing and retaining the world’s best players is a priority for Super League.
“Quite rightly - and even more so now as we are nearing discussions around a new broadcast deal - it is seen by our clubs as fundamental to the future success of the competition.
“While several of our leading players have excelled in the NRL and, in all likelihood, more will want to test themselves in that environment, it does feel wrong that the coach of our national team is linking a move to the NRL so closely to the award of international honours.
‘’None of us should lose sight of the fact that it is the Super League competition that has developed these players, and that all aspects of the game on this side of the world will benefit by them staying,'' said Elstone..
Yesterday (Tuesday) there had also been suggestions, rightly or wrongly, that St Helens prop Luke Thompson might be heading for South Sydney in the near future - the club coached by Bennett. in a dual role.