England Rugby League: 3 Reasons To Be Cheerful

England have not enjoyed any success on the international stage for over forty years, and that was when the national team was called Great Britain.

Recent years have witnessed a series of failures against the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia and New Zealand, with optimism brought crashing to earth every time the Four Nations rolls round.

With issues over the disestablishment of the Great Britain team, the number of overseas players in Super League choking off the chances for native young players and a seeming lack of international quality of half-backs, as well as the competition from rugby union, have left most fans of the England RL team in the pits of despair, with little light at the end of the tunnel.

However, rugby league fans have 3 main reasons for cheerfulness in 2011.

Firstly, Sam Tomkins. Yes, the Wigan Warriors full-back can be a divisive and controversial figure, but he is still one of the best players to emerge anywhere in the world in recent times.

Tomkins is one of the few Super League players who looks genuinely good enough to play in their NRL and still excel. He can change a game single-handedly, and the cockiness and conceit that informs much of his more outrageous skills are exactly the qualities needed to beat the Kiwis and Kangaroos.

The 22-year-old's game is not just about skills though; he has proved that he can handle the physical aspects of the game with a resilience that speaks volumes about his mental strength. Always targeted for treatment by the opposition, he can usually get up with a grin from the biggest hit.

The position of hooker is another reason for optimism amongst English RL fans. St Helens star James Roby is one of the best dummy halves in world rugby league, and the talk of him being targeted by NRL clubs for a possible move to Australia should be seen as a compliment. Roby is also one of the few hookers currently in the game who can easily play a full 80 minutes rather than being spelled from the bench.

Should he need a breather though, England have Huddersfield Giants' Luke Robinson to call upon. Robinson is probably better suited to scrum-half, but his alertness and speed make him formidable in any of the pivot positions.

Tiny by modern standards, he is teak tough and his cockiness reminds many of the cheeky arrogance of great half-backs such as Alec Murphy. His confidence and ability give cause for positive feelings about the future.

Lastly, there are some very fine young players set to develop into great players in the English game over the next few years. The likes of Jamie Foster, Jonny Lomax and Lee Gaskell at St Helens, as well as Ben Jones-Bishop and Kallum Watkins at Leeds, and Liam Watts and Kris Welham at Hull Kingston Rovers, there are some pretty special players set to make an international splash in coming seasons.

Now all England fans have to do is wait.


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