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Lee Radford fears RL Test gap may not close as competition taken out of school sport

LEE Radford believes England may not close the gap to Australia as competition disappears from schools and junior rugby league.

It could see them overtaken by recent finalists Samoa and Pacific giants Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Samoa’s World Cup final place highlighted a problem of competition being taken from children’s sport in England, says Lee Radford

Fans on this side of the world have been soul searching after Shaun Wane’s men failed to make the final on home turf, losing a classic semi-final to Samoa 27-26 in extra time.

But Castleford boss Radford, one of the men who ended the dream as he was the islanders’ assistant, believes that could point to more of a society issue than a rugby one.

Competition at a young age is what breeds success, not taking part.

Radford said: “We’re taking that much competitiveness out of school life and whether it be amateur rugby league, football or cricket, they’re trying to take winning medals away.

“How do you get that competitive edge when we’re trying to make normality from finishing last?

“We’re trying to take away sports days at primary school and take away winning medals for representative teams in rugby league at under-12s, under-14s, whatever age.

“Then they want us to try and be elite and competitive at the top end, the two don’t marry up.

“In Hull, at representative level – East v West – they have to pick four kids from each of the teams. Now four of the kids from the bottom team might not be good enough to play.

“But they have to pick them as a token gesture now.

“That inclusivity takes the edge out of best v best. So when England gets to a World Cup final or a semi-final and doesn’t quite nail it, that’s probably going to be the answer for the next 25 years.

Radford wants competition put into school sports and junior rugby league

“As a country and as the sport of rugby league, if we don’t promote that competitive edge, don’t complain when it’s not there in 20 years.”

Radford had no time off after reaching the World Cup final with Samoa, with whom he was an assistant.

After they lost 30-10 to Australia on the Saturday, he was back on Castleford’s training pitch on the Monday!

And while he has some beliefs in the way he does things strengthened, he did pick up one or two minor things he will change.

Radford was back at Castleford immediately after the World Cup

“I was there on the Monday back to pre-season,” he added.

“It always depended on how Samoa did, the better they did, the less time I got off. It turned out the week they lost was the starting point of our pre-season.

“And what the World Cup did was reinforce the knowledge that you’ve got to be good in certain areas, whatever level you’re playing at.

“That applies at club level for Cas or in the World Cup final with Samoa. That showed me even more how important the areas you put importance on are.”

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