England's NRL invasion add Hock
ENGLAND stars Gareth Hock and Tom Briscoe provided less-than-convincing denials about their plans to join NRL clubs as Wests Tigers' Gareth Ellis said moving to the southern hemisphere had become a common topic of conversation among Super League's biggest names.
Wigan's Hock was a contentious choice as man of the match in the 44-6 win over France at Hull's Craven Park - and there was just as much conjecture over his answer when asked if rumours linking him to Parramatta for next season were accurate.
"There's been a lot of talk but it's all rumours," Hock told BBC television, with what some interpreted as a look of panic on his face.
Hock, who was suspended for two years in 2009 after testing positive for cocaine, then dodged print media interviews.
Hull winger Briscoe has been linked to Cronulla for 2014 and offered what could be termed a knowing smile when he told NRL.com: "I've got no plans beyond next year. I'm just concentrating on Hull at the minute and seeing where that leads me.
"They are (trying to keep me) and we'll see what they have to say."
But The Sun reported as far back as March that Hull would not stand in Briscoe's way if he wanted to head to Sydney. It's an option which, according to Ellis - who links with Hull himself next year - more and more of the England Test team is considering.
"I've heard the rumours about (Hock) but I don't know whether it's true or not," said Ellis, who has returned home after a successful four-year stint at Concord.
"Obviously he'd be great down there. He's a great player and we've got some great players who I think will move down there eventually.
"I just think that's the way the game's going at the moment with the TV rights and the things they've got on offer down there, financially and with the exchange rate.
"It's all in favour of attracting the talented English boys so I think there'll be one or two more going over."
Hock is a skilful player but one who sometimes has trouble with his discipline. "I'm not a coach but as I said, I think he'd go great," Ellis said. "He's a tough player, a bit of an enforcer and he doesn't mind mixing it up a bit.
"He's a good hole-runner too, so off a good halfback, I think he'd be busting holes left, right and centre."
Ellis said he'd have no hesitation in advising any English player to try their lunch down under.
"In terms of the English boys getting the respect they deserve, I think sometimes they have to go down there and prove it," he offered. "He's one who could do it.
"A lot of players had the ambition to play in the NRL, even from a young age. It's not all about money (despite) what I was just saying. I think it's down to the opportunity to go live in Australia and experience life in another country."
"If they were to ask me, I'd give them that same advice. I absolutely loved it. Loved living in Australia, loved my time, loved playing for Wests Tigers.
"I can only speak for my point of view - I think it would be great for one or two blokes."
The same two teams - England and France - will meet in the Tri-Nations final at the City of Salford Stadium on Sunday. Sam Tomkins' double on Saturday made him England's highest tryscorer, eclipsing a 70-year-old record of 13 held by Alf Ellaby.