SAM Tomkins has called on English rugby league fans to change their attitude and look at the bigger picture – their country.
And the best way to get them to do that is to get the Test side to play more.
Shaun Wane’s men notched a convincing 18-4 win over the Combined Nations All Stars in last Saturday’s mid-season international – short of flying to the other side of the world, the strongest opposition they could face.
But listen to many supporters and see a sub-10,000 crowd at Warrington, where five-figure crowds for league games are the norm, and you could be forgiven for thinking, ‘What was the point?’
Tomkins, however, believes that mentality needs to change, especially when it comes to the All Stars game ahead of this year’s World Cup and the 13-a-side code’s bosses can help by getting England on the pitch more regularly.
“Fans don’t support England, they support their club’s players,” he admitted. “That’s why the All Stars game has a really weird atmosphere.
“There’s no genuine atmosphere at these games as if someone supports Warrington, they’d have supported Daryl Clark on the All Stars’ team and George Williams for England.
“People should get behind the national team, put club loyalties aside and back your nation. If you’re a foreigner, back the All Stars. Go and buy a jersey, go and shout for them.
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“That’s how it should be, that’s how it is in rugby union, that’s how it is in football.
“Rugby league needs to get on board and we need people to come out and forget who they support, Wigan, Castleford, Leeds, whoever. They should be England fans.
“For me, there should be as many games as possible. The biggest honour is to play for your country but the bottom line is we live a long way away from any good international team.
“We’re not going to be able to go 11,000 miles to play a game once a month.”
England’s win – and seeing some things they did not do perfectly – was a big step on the road to this year’s World Cup.
…. to be continued
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