Rivalry still going strong
Two significant NRL figures have stoked up the rivalry ahead of the World Club Challenge with their criticism of Super League.
Last Updated: 18/02/09 3:26pm
Two significant NRL figures have stoked up the rivalry between England and Australia ahead of the World Club Challenge, with their criticism of Super League.
Tony Smith's England side was embarrassed at the 2008 World Cup, winning just one game against Papua New Guinea in the whole tournament, but Super League's representatives have fared much better in the club competition.
The English champions have beaten their Australian counterparts in the last five World Club Challenge clashes, with Leeds Rhinos currently preparing to defend their crown against Manly Sea Eagles on March 1.
But as the contest draws closer, Manly chief executive Grant Mayer has expressed his reservations about the standard of competition in the northern hemisphere.
"Super League, to me, is still very much a second-tier competition which is for NRL players coming to the end of their careers," Mayer told Australian Rugby League Week magazine.
Mayer's view has been echoed by West Tigers coach Tim Sheen - who is now working with former Leeds star forward Gareth Ellis.
"You can see why England is behind us," Sheen said. "The decision-making in defence isn't always the best thing.
"There are things Gareth is learning that I don't think he has ever learnt. There has been a lot of back to basics.
"He can play with the ball - he's certainly going to add to our game - but it's a three-year deal and he will build over that period.
"He's going to have teething problems but nothing great - the kid can play."
Ellis has knuckled down though and will continue his education in Saturday night's Foundation Cup trial against Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium.
"I'm under no illusions that I'm going to set the world on fire," Ellis said.
"I know that I need to improve and be better than ever to be a success down here and that's what I'm setting out to do."