SECOND best – and still light years away from bridging the massive gulf between ourselves and Australia.
That’s my damning verdict on England’s forlorn attempt to lift the Gillette Four Nations title at a jam-packed Elland Road on Saturday night.
Not for the first time when the two countries have crossed swords, it turned out to be men against boys, with the almost inevitable conclusion.
Now it’s a case of once more going back to the drawing board, and trying to find an answer, if there is one.
Australia were far from their best, but they still had too much know-how for a lack-lustre England side.
And like in most of the past meetings during past 40 years or so, they had the ability to raise the stakes when it mattered most.
n JOURNALISM has become an even more maligned profession since the News of the World phone-hacking scandal reared its ugly head, but on the other side of he coin, it’s nice to receive a pat on the back for your own work.
The thank-you came from Doreen Ashton – widow of rugby league icon Eric Ashton – after remarks I made in my column about the St Helens-born Wigan skipper, following his inclusion in a list of all-time greats nominated for the proposed statue outside Wembley to mark the 13-a-side code’s long link with the national stadium.
I don’t mind admitting there have only been few occasions during a 52-year career in journalism that someone has actually picked up a phone and personally thanked me for a story, but that perfectly sums up the Ashton family as a whole.
n TWO former Super League personalities came face-to-face the other Saturday in surroundings far removed from the last time they took centre stage, but who were they?
Swap The Theatre of Dreams – bursting at the seams for the 2006 Grand Final between Saints and Hull FC – for Stockport RUFC’s thinly-populated Bridge Lane Memorial Ground, as they hosted Preston Grasshoppers and the answer will become clear. Or will it?
Just to put you out of your misery, the two in question were former St Helens scrum-half Sean Long playing for Hoppers, and referee Karl Kirkpatrick, who was the man in the middle at Old Trafford five years ago.
It was the Warrington official’s last RL fixture before he switched codes, because he didn’t want to give up his day-time banking job when Super League refs went full-time.
He and Longy no doubt had plenty to catch up at the end of the Stockport match.
n IT doesn’t seem five minutes ago since the curtain came down on engage Super League XVI, but fans will be given a taste of what lies in store next season at the end of this week when the RFL announces its fixture schedule for 2012.