Kangaroos greats Laurie Daley and Greg Alexander say England needs to go back to the drawing board if it is going to compete with Australia and New Zealand in the Four Nations.
A week after opening their campaign with a 14-point loss to New Zealand, the tourists made it two losses from as many starts as they were thrashed 34-14 by the Kangaroos – their early departure from this year’s tournament extending their trophyless streak to 38 years.
Daley suggested more England stars may need to follow in the footsteps of Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis and make a move to the NRL in order to match the standard of the Australians and the Kiwis.
“I like the concept of the Four Nations and it’s a good way to give some of these nations the exposure they need but I’m disappointed that England either aren’t showing what they’re capable of or simply aren’t capable of doing so,” Daley said.
“I don’t know about the standard of the English Super League – their form in the Four Nations would suggest that it’s not where it should be.
“Having said that, guys like Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis have come over here and done particularly well, so the talent is obviously there.
“But they need to stop relying on having so many imports and perhaps start sending more of their guys over here.”
England last lifted a major international trophy way back in 1972 when they won the World Cup and have struggled to mount a serious challenge against Australia since 1990 when a last-minute Mal Meninga try in the second Test prevented them from stealing away the Ashes.
Alexander said it was time the Super League underwent an internal overhaul in order to uncover young homegrown talent to match the quality of the league's Australian imports.
“The fact that the best players in the game over there – and this has been going on for a while now – are blokes that have finished with the NRL, is a huge problem for them,” Alexander said.
“Brett Hodgson was Man of Steel last year, Pat Richards was Man of Steel this year … I don’t know what’s happening at a level underneath Super League but the standard of kids they’re producing are obviously not the same as ours.
“Until you drill down a bit deeper to see what’s happening below the blokes you see on TV, it’s hard to know what’s going on.”
Alexander backed Daley’s call for more England stars to make the move to Australia, but worries that could further weaken the standard of the Super League.
“At the very least they should look at having more of their players spend some time in the NRL – it would help their confidence and to develop some hard-nosed professionalism having to play week-in, week-out,” he said.
“That sort of thing wouldn’t hurt them.
“Of course the problem is what then happens to their game while they’re gone?
“It’s a tough one to solve but there is no doubt that they need to do something positive.”