The current World Club Series games between Super League and Australian NRL sides have had an intensity to them that is missing from a large number of regular season SL games.
There's little doubt that increasing the intensity of games that English players are involved in will have a knock-on effect on the fortunes of the national team. There have been a number of ways proposed to do this, from getting more English players into the NRL to tinkering with the structure of the Super League to reduce the number of one-sided encounters.
Perhaps the most radical proposal is that of an English based team playing in the NRL itself. So how would it work?
The most obvious issue would be the logistics. A 24-hour flight to the other side of the world and back again every other week simply wouldn't be feasible. An English-based team would have to play its away fixtures in blocks, maybe say six weeks at a time as a mini tour. For Australian teams coming to the UK, the current NRL bye weeks could be used to allow them additional rest after they return.
The second issue would then be how you build up a player pool for an English side. This is where it would need buy-in from the existing SL clubs, who would need to be convinced to give up some of their existing stars.
A way to do this may be to run a player draft. The coach of the new side could be restricted to say three English players from each of the twelve SL clubs, plus a handful of England Academy players to pad out the squad and introduce them at an early age to the high standards required.
So how might such a squad look? Arguably, something like this:
Full back: Johnny Lomax, Zak Hardaker
Wings: Ryan Hall, Jermaine McGillivray, Ben Jones-Bishop, Tom Lineham
Centre: Kallum Watkins, Dan Sarginson, Michael Shenton, Chris Bridge
Stand off: Kevin Brown, Stefan Ratchford
Scrum half: Matty Smith, Joe Mellor
Props: Chris Hill, Andy Lynch, Scott Taylor, Kyle Amor
Hooker: James Roby, Shaun Lunt
Second row: Brett Ferres, Joe Westerman, Elliot Whitehead, Liam Farrell
Loose forward: Sean O'Loughlin, Danny Washbrook
The squad could be re-assessed each year, with any players discarded being returned to their home clubs but ensuring no more than three players come from any one club. The likes of James Graham, Mike Cooper and the Burgess twins could be pursued when their current NRL contracts expire.
Not only would it expose the best English players to NRL levels of intensity week-in, week-out, it would also enable them to build up understanding, structures and combinations when they come together for the national team.
While this is currently nothing more than a pipe dream, with the right commitment from all levels on both sides of the world, there's no reason we couldn't be watching an "England Exiles" team playing in the NRL at some point in the future.