Why England (and all Test sides) should be rugby league's priority for 2021

WELCOME to 2021, arguably rugby league's most important year since 1996.

One in which the World Cup should dominate everything.

As an Englishman, I will say England should take priority over any club. Same applies to Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

No offence to the great work done by clubs around the country but the fortunes of the national side are bigger.

Imagine the boost seeing Shaun Wane's men lifting the trophy at Old Trafford on November 27 would bring to the 13-a-side code.

To achieve that, England must have the best preparation possible for the tilt at glory. No club concerns getting in the way, no excuse.

Yes, there are worries at club level – and not just on the field. The best possible TV deal, or deals, tops Super League boss Robert Elstone's list.

But after a year of problems – both Covid-19 and expansion-related – the way to really grow interest nationally is to go all the way in the Autumn.

Super League is playing its part with the number of brilliant youngsters coming through. It used to be a case of England's team picking itself, now a debate can be had for every position.

And the signings of the likes of Zane Tetevano, Elijah Taylor and Sione Mata'utia will add to the quality of international talent alongside players like Alex Walmsley, John Bateman and Kallum Watkins.

Which brings me to the reintroduction of the Exiles side in June. Fans should back it, it works.

OK, Super League is not likely to have as dramatic an ending as this year. As a journalist covering the Grand Final with a tight deadline, I hope it does not!

However, it should be a quality competition, more in depth than previous years. The ideal build up for a crack at the World Cup.

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