Wilkin - RL supporters must get behind England

Jon Wilkin is congratulated by Jonny Lomax
Jon Wilkin is congratulated by Jonny Lomax

JON Wilkin has urged rugby league fans to put aside their club loyalties when they support the national team.

St Helens second rower Wilkin was speaking after a disappointing 7,865 fans turned up to the Galpharm Stadium to watch the second England-Exiles test.

“There’s an issue in our game about the strength of the clubs and the tribal mentality that our spectators have,” said Wilkin, who was made England skipper for the game.

“We need to start to break that down and get this England identity to mean something to the fans.

“The players and [coach] Steve McNamara are committed to getting that right.”

Observers have blamed the timing of the game and high ticket prices for the low turnout.

But Wilkin believes the game will only benefit Super League’s top players.

He said: “I think we need the game to be well supported,” said the St Helens forward. “I don’t think the first game, because of the weather conditions, did us any favours.

“We aspire to have more people to come and watch an international rugby game.

“As players, we need exposure to that top international standard. I think there were only two penalties in the game, and that relentless game is in the style that international rugby is.

“The more exposure we can get to it, the better.”