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Schofield wants huge English influx in NRL

AAP logoAAP 28/10/2016

Former Balmain and England star Garry Schofield has called for a major English influx into the NRL to boost the country's flagging fortunes.

The Golden Boot winner wants to see Great Britain increase its representation in the Australian competition to 60 players.

England coach Wayne Bennett has chosen eight players who featured in the NRL in 2016 in his 19-man squad for Saturday's Four Nations opener against New Zealand.

New Zealand are the world's top-ranked side, but the star-studded Kangaroos head into the Four Nations tournament as favourites and will be considered hard to beat at next year's World Cup.

Great British and English teams have not beaten Australia in an Ashes series since 1970 and they have never won the Tri-Nations or Four Nations.

The last time they lifted the World Cup was 1972 and their last Test win over the Kangaroos was when Great Britain triumphed 23-12 in the Four Nations in 2006.

Schofield, who played 46 games for the Tigers in the 1980s, said Englishmen who went to the NRL returned better players.

"It is intense week-in week-out. It made us better players," Schofield told Sky Sports Radio.

"For us to get better at international level, and to be consistent at international level, I would like to see 40, 50, 60 of our fellas playing in the NRL because it is the best competition in the world."

Former captain Schofield played 49 times for England and Great Britain, winning the Golden Boot Award for world's best player in 1990.

Schofield said the form of English-born NRL players Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead, James Graham and Sam Burgess showed the country was headed in the right direction.

And that coupled with the guidance of Brisbane supercoach Bennett could have them upsetting Australia and New Zealand at upcoming tournaments, according to Schofield.

"The mental game that Wayne Bennett has, if he can get the best out of the players for the 80 minutes, who knows, we could win the Four Nations and really give the World Cup a big shake-up," Schofield said.

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