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Australia and New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from this year’s World Cup is best summed up by George Orwell’s book ‘1984’.

“All animals are equal – but some are more equal than others”. There couldn’t be a more apt phrase for what has unfolded in the last 48 hours.

It’s a self-absorbed, self-interested and myopic decision made with the interests of the 2022 NRL season in mind, and nothing to do with player welfare.

We know that because this autumn the Wallabies will be in this country playing international rugby union, Australia and New Zealand are currently competing at the Olympics and we’ve had the Kiwi cricket team here too.

The competing nations line up before the 2013 World Cup in this country
(Image: PA)

On top of that England has staged Euro 2020 successfully and an Australian won the women’s Wimbledon final in Ash Barty.

So for the Australian and New Zealand Rugby Leagues to hide behind player welfare and Covid is a joke.

They think they’re more equal than the rest of the sport – they don’t need us and they have no interest in seeing the game grow at a wider level.

To make this move because it would create a two-week hindrance to the 2022 NRL season due to quarantining is nothing short of scandalous.

It’s so disappointing for the sport in general and I really feel for the World Cup organisers who had put protocols in place that go above and beyond what the Olympics are doing.

Australia will not defend the trophy they won in 2017 in Brisbane
(Image: Matt King)

Rugby league is a sport where selflessness is hugely important – the teams that are most successful are the ones with the most selfless players.

So to see such selfishness from administrators at the highest level is bitterly disappointing, and has really knocked my faith in people doing the right thing within rugby league.

If they are adamant they won’t come over, then I think we should focus on making sure we get the best Tongan, Samoan and Fijian teams here and play it without Australia and New Zealand.

The time is now, not in 2022, when we’ll be up against the World Cup in Qatar, the Commonwealth Games and the Women’s Euros.

Let’s create a sold-out World Cup including some great matches, and if they want to play each other Down Under then let them get on with it.

We can still create a thrilling spectacle with some of the best athletes in the world involved.

Betfred – Passionate about rugby league