What rugby league should learn from the World Cup in Russia

Players do not need to be born in the country they represent but they do need to build those international bonds over time

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required

The World Cup has shown rugby league fans there are a few things we need to stop worrying about. Yes, some players in our sport seem to have few obvious connections to their international teams, but a few of the footballers at the World Cup are not so different.

No one seems to mind that Russia’s goalscoring hero Denis Cheryshev has spent almost his entire life in Spain; that Nigeria’s squad contained players born or bred in England, Russia, Germany and Holland; or that just a quarter of Morocco’s squad was born in Morocco. Few viewers know or care that Russia’s excellent right-back Mário Fernandes has a cap for his native Brazil or that he is among the 10% of players competing in Russia who were born outside the country they represent. It does not seem to hold the tournament back.

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