My not-so-radical solution for the mid-season test match

My not-so-radical solution for the mid-season test match

Last month I wrote an article where I strongly criticised the decision to have England play France as a curtain raiser for Toulouse vs Featherstone in June.

Then after, it dawned on me. Anyone can criticise, but if you don’t have anything constructive to add, then it’s just moaning isn’t it?

Well, I’ve come up with the answer and it’s a bloody good idea if I do say so myself. Now, it’s been mooted before in various guises, and even been tried to some extent before with the Exiles. However, where my idea differs is that there’ll actually be players taking more pride in the jersey. After all, an Exiles jersey basically just means ‘anyone who’s not English’ (although even that changed in the last match)

So, here goes….an Australia representative XIII.

Now, before you yawn and say to yourself, ‘that’s just the Exiles again’, there would be two major differences with this idea. Firstly, only players who are born in Australia or who are eligible to play for them could be picked.

Secondly, they’d get to wear the famous green and gold jersey, although if the NRL put a block on them wearing the actual Kangaroos shirt, then they could wear some sort of variation of it.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle we’ve had with the mid-season international is making it meaningful. It’s either, play against a poor France side who have pride in the jersey, or play against an Exiles side who aren’t representing anything in particular.

With my idea, we’d solve that issue, and it’s not like there’s a shortage of quality Aussies in Super League. So, on that note, here’s my Australian representative team to take on England:

Full-back: Jai Field

The Wigan Warriors superstar has been one of Super League’s standout players over the past couple of seasons and won every trophy available since he moved to the UK. He hasn’t found his try scoring form so far in 2024, but he’s still the most electric full-back in the league on his day.

Winger: Bevan French

French has been sensational since moving to Wigan, and although he now plays in the halves, I’d have no hesitation in putting him back on the wing for this team. His electric pace and ability to create something out of thin air makes him a genuine threat in whatever position he plays in. His combination with Field is frightening for opposition defences as well.

Centre: Adam Keighran

Ok, 3/3 Wigan players so far, but the team will be more balanced by the end, I promise. Keighran has had a solid start since joining the Warriors from Catalans Dragons, and he’s a solid goal kicker as well, which gives him the edge over some of the other options.

Centre: Paul Momirovski

Momirovski was a solid player during his time in the NRL, notching up 60 appearances for four clubs without ever truly establishing himself as a regular. He’s a Leeds Rhinos regular though, and that’s good enough for me in this side.

Winger: Abbas Miski

While Miski might play internationally for Lebanon, he’s born and bred in Australian, and under official rules, he could still be picked for the Kangaroos anyway, so I’m having him. After joining Wigan as a backup player initially, he’s grabbed his opportunity since becoming a regular and hasn’t looked back. Not quite as fast as French on the other wing, but certainly more powerful.

Stand-off: Matt Moylan

One of the stars of the team, and also one of the few players in this side with rep honours for Australia and New South Wales. During a stellar career in the NRL, Moylan made three appearances at Origin level, and one for the Kangaroos. Even though he’s now in the twilight of his career, there’s still plenty of magic left in him.

Scrum-half: Brodie Croft

Although Croft’s Leeds career hasn’t set alight yet, he’s still a top Super League half as he proved at Salford. His NRL career never really took off at Melbourne and Brisbane, but he found his top form at Salford, winning the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award in 2022, and earning his move to the Rhinos.

Prop: Paul Vaughan

Another of the few players in this side with rep honours, Vaughan played six times for New South Wales and twice for Australia during his NRL career. He’s been one of Warrington’s better overseas signings in recent years, and is still performing regularly for the Wire.

Hooker: Matt Parcell

Parcell has established himself as a solid and reliable presence during his long stint in Super League. He initially joined Leeds, way back in 2017, and he’s since notched up more than 100 appearances for Hull KR.

Prop: Kelepi Tanginoa

Tanginoa’s been incredible for Hull KR since switching from Wakefield for the 2024 season. His NRL career included just over 30 games across three clubs, but he really established himself in West Yorkshire before his transfer.

Second row: Lachlan Fitzgibbon

Another of Warrington’s better overseas signings, Fitzgibbon was part of the first team picture at Newcastle Knights for nine seasons before his move to the UK. He played over 100 games for the Knights before heading to the Wire, where he’s been a regular in the starting side in 2024.

Second row: Tariq Sims

Another player with rep honours, Sims played six times for New South Wales during a remarkable 14-year career in the NRL. The explosive ball runner was also part of the Fiji side that reached the World Cup semi-final back in 2013.

Loose forward: Kaide Ellis

Ellis has established himself as a Wigan regular since joining in 2022, especially since the departure of Morgan Smithies. Equally at home at prop, he completes my starting XIII in the loose forward position for this side.

Interchange: Moses Mbye

The fourth and final Origin player in the side, Mbye is the only one to have played for Queensland. He played in all three games back in 2019, and his versatility gets him the number 14 jumper for this side.

Interchange: Rhys Kennedy

Kennedy’s career has been a mixed bag, but I needed a prop for the bench and he fits the bill. I was genuinely excited to see him when he moved over to Hull KR for 2023, having played for the Rabbitohs and the Broncos in Australia. Rovers let him go after just one season though, but he’s now a regular for the London Broncos in 2024.

Interchange: Shane Wright

Like Kennedy, Shane Wright’s career hasn’t been as sparkling as some of the other players in this team, but he can be relied upon as a replacement prop. After 41 games in the NRL with the Cowboys, he’s been in and out of the Salford side since 2022.

Interchange: Bayley Sironen

Sironen played more than 80 games in the NRL before his switch to Catalans Dragons for 2024. Best in the second row, I’d still back him to do a job elsewhere in the forwards if needed.

Darren Notley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *