England's Wane ponders Exiles revival after upcoming Ashes series is cancelled


The cancellation of this year’s Ashes series is expected to mean the Rugby Football League will miss out on upwards of £1m, but the England coach Shaun Wane admits he would be open to the possibility of the Exiles concept being revived as an alternative to the pulled three matches against Australia.

With the Super League and NRL seasons set to finish much later than originally scheduled this year, the first Ashes series in 17 years has now been shelved, leaving Wane potentially waiting until 2021 for his first match in charge of the national side, as well as the governing body with a significant financial shortfall.

The three games at Bolton, Leeds and Tottenham’s new stadium in north London were expected to be sell-outs, and their cancellation will deprive the RFL of a significant seven-figure sum. The sport does however have the fallback of a £16m emergency loan provided by the government.

The RFL’s chief executive, Ralph Rimmer, said: “We are very disappointed. It will have a considerable impact on the finances of rugby league here in England, as we were banking on a significant boost from Australia’s first full tour since 2003.”

With the Super League season potentially set to run until December, it increases the possibility of England not playing at all in 2020, as Wane admits he will now need a mid-season game to prepare sufficiently for next year’s World Cup on home soil.

However, Wane did leave open the prospect of trying to arrange a game against an Exiles side either this year or next. Made up of the best overseas players currently playing in Super League, the Exiles concept has been on hiatus since 2013, but Wane insisted any sort of revival would provide his squad with an ideal test.

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“I sat in my garden the other day and wrote out an Exiles team, and it was as good as any Test side,” he said. “It would be a great game and a great standard. It would be a fantastic test for us, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s not been discussed yet but if you look at the players that they could pick from, it would be brilliant.”

Wane also stressed the importance of England now playing mid-season in 2021 as a bare minimum. “I’d like to have a mid-season Test,” he said. “If I can get something like a camp in at the end of the season that would be good, obviously a game would be great, but Super League comes first, I understand that we need to get our domestic games on.”

With the priority fulfilling broadcast obligations with Sky Sports – which are essential for the RFL’s finances – England may take a backseat in the run-up to the World Cup. However, Wane remains confident he can guide them to success in the tournament. “I would never say we’re at a disadvantage,” he said. “Even if we get one game we will have camps and sessions where my staff will make the most of everything and deliver the best quality for these players.”



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