(Reuters) – Former England captain James Graham said there should be no rush to postpone the Rugby League World Cup to next year as the tournament could give a boost to the game in difficult times.
England is due to host the 16-team tournament from Oct. 23-Nov. 27 but travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic means there is some doubt the event can go ahead.
Australia’s government has said it is planning to start re-opening its international travel corridors only from mid-2022 and a prolonged ban on international flights could affect World Cup-bound players travelling from New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea.
“It shouldn’t just be crossed off so quickly and just put in that ‘too hard basket,'” Graham, who played 53 tests for England and Great Britain, told Australian Associated Press.
“We have to fight for this. The international game should be the pinnacle of our sport. The general all-round health of the game can benefit by this World Cup.”
Graham, who was part of the England team that played in the 2017 World Cup final, said postponing the event would be a missed opportunity for the code.
“A major tournament held in England post-COVID,” Graham added. “It could put our game front and centre on the big stage.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)