The Super League Dream Team has always been something of a farce, but in recent seasons it has begun to descend into even more of a ludicrous debacle that I believe undermines principles at the heart of rugby league. The insistence on including only English players over the past two seasons appears to be motivated by something darker. Yes, I know Scottish representative Danny Brough made it into the squad in 2013. However, his attachment to Scotland stretches only marginally further than many of the celebrities compelling Scottish citizens to vote no to independence!
To the matter at hand, who are we trying to convince? Are we saying since the inclusion of George Carmont (New Zealand), Brett Finch (Australia), Scott Dureau (Australia) and Remi Casty (France) in the 2012 side that players born away from these shores aren’t matching their English counterparts? The answer according to the selected panel of journalists, who were no doubt given a set of rigorous RFL approved guidelines, appear to be a resounding yes. The lack of any overseas players in the past two squads seems to suggest a form of island mentality. With the isolated wails of a rugby league establishment unwilling to accept the possibility that folks from overseas could be outperforming their boys. While I’m happy to accept that a set of journalists have been asked to vote and come to this conclusion, this occurrence doesn’t undermine a blinkered view that has somehow ranked a group of English players above all overseas players in every position.
Consequently, we find a situation where a side that finished sixth in the table has five players. Two of whom – though Hardaker and Hall are both admittedly excellent players – glaring inclusions with Warrington Wolves’ Joel Monaghan and Catalan Dragons’ Morgan Escaré omitted after having an incredible effect on the standard of play at their clubs and in the league in general. Monaghan’s status at top try-scorer with Escaré in tow in second place are obvious factors to point to. Both have had outstanding season in sides whose form has fluctuated throughout. Even if you argue against one of these, I find it hard to believe different selections couldn’t have been made in other positions.
However we dress this up, there appears to be something wrong with the thought process and the deck has been rigged. I always thought rugby league was better than the rest. That we celebrated the players from across the seas and far away as much as the players we developed ourselves. Unfortunately the decision to omit all overseas players leaves me with a foul taste in my mouth akin to the one present on European Election night and an ill wind has swept across the court of established rugby league opinion.