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Rugby League World Cup 2021: Former England international Kevin Brown says Indigenous and Maori teams should be entered

Former England international Brown, who was part of the squad which reached the 2017 World Cup final, joined Sky Sports rugby league experts Brian Carney and Jon Wells to discuss Australia and New Zealand’s withdrawal from this year’s tournament

Last Updated: 29/07/21 4:41pm

Former England World Cup player Kevin Brown wants to see the Indigenous and Maori teams play in 2021

Kevin Brown believes the Indigenous and Maori teams would be the perfect sides to replace Australia and New Zealand at this year’s Rugby League World Cup.

Initial talks have taken place between RLWC2021 organisers and Indigenous and Maori representatives to replace reigning champions Australia and 2008 winners New Zealand following their decision to pull out of the tournament over Covid-19 safety concerns.

Serbia and 2013 quarter-finalists USA, both of whom missed out in the qualifiers, have also been suggested as possible replacements, but former England half-back Brown feels the Indigenous and Maori teams tick all the boxes from a commercial, competitive and spectator point of view.

As the fallout from Australia and New Zealand's decision not to take part in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup continues - Brian Carney, Jon Wells, and Kevin Brown discuss the latest developments and opinions

Sky Sports 12:01
As the fallout from Australia and New Zealand’s decision not to take part in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup continues – Brian Carney, Jon Wells, and Kevin Brown discuss the latest developments and opinions

As the fallout from Australia and New Zealand’s decision not to take part in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup continues – Brian Carney, Jon Wells, and Kevin Brown discuss the latest developments and opinions

“What I’d like to happen is the Indigenous All Stars and the New Zealand Maoris to come over,” Brown told Sky Sports.

“You’re going to get superstars, you’re going to get tough games and you’re going to get great atmospheres. I’m hoping the majority of the lads who aren’t going to come with Australia and New Zealand come with different teams.

“As a fan, I’d prefer to go and watch the Indigenous All Stars and Maoris. There are pros and cons, but as a fan we need to sell the World Cup.

“The game here is in desperate need of something like this – the PDRL, the women’s game and the men’s game need this World Cup. To get as many superstars over here is what we need to do.”

Dutton: 50/50 chance of World Cup going ahead in 2021

Jon Dutton admits staging the Rugby League World Cup this year is “50/50”, but players’ views will inform any decisions.

Brown, who was part of the England squad which were beaten 6-0 by Australia in the World Cup final four years ago, acknowledges the tournament will not be the same without two of the sport’s biggest nations in attendance.

He knows how disappointed the other nations are too from speaking with Salford Red Devils team-mate Ata Hingano and Tui Lolohea, both of whom have starred during Tonga’s rise to prominence in recent years.

“The first people I spoke to were Ata Hingano and Tui Lolohea, and they were pretty disappointed because international rugby over the last period has been great with the emergence of Tonga and Samoa,” Brown said.

“Ideally, they would come under a bit of pressure and change their mind, but they don’t normally do that.

Brown's Salford team-mate Ata Hingano helped Tonga reach the 2017 World Cup semi-finals

Brown’s Salford team-mate Ata Hingano helped Tonga reach the 2017 World Cup semi-finals

“To sell it to my son, if [Australia international] Josh Addo-Carr comes over in an Indigenous side he’d still want to come and watch.

“But, as a player, if I win a World Cup and I’m looking at the stars, I’m not sure it’s the same without Australia and New Zealand.”

Watch the full ‘Off The Cuff: World Cup Latest’ debate with Brian Carney, Kevin Brown and Jon Wells, available online and via Sky On Demand.



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