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Burgess blow is cause for concern; JON WILKIN Super Saint writes for the ECHO.

Byline: JON WILKIN

THE loss of Sam Burgess to rugby union is a blow to rugby league. Sam will be joining Bath RU club at the end of the 2014 Australian NRL season, presumably with a view to playing for England in the next rugby union World Cup.

The news brings home even more to me where Super League stands in the commercial pecking order. Both rugby union and the NRL are talking numbers which we struggle to compete with. Of course, we'll carry on producing more Sam Burgesses. But the fear is the migration of players from our competition, especially if they prove to be successes elsewhere, will step up a pace.

I suppose the galling thing is that we're proving to be an excellent shop window for players to prove themselves and build up a profile, but then just when they reach the peak of their careers, they're taken away. Sam Tomkins, who has moved Down Under to play for the New Zealand Warriors, is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

So what's to be done about it, if anything? There's talk of a 'marquee signing' allowance whereby a wealthy club or club owner would be able to have one player in their squad who doesn't count on the salary cap.

That might help, although I don't think it's a complete solution.

The potential scale of the problem is a worry.

If you think that we currently have, say, Chris Ashton, Kyle Eastmond, the four Burgess brothers, James Graham, Lee Mossop, Joel and Sam Tomkins plying their trade away from Super League - we'll soon be getting close to having a full international team playing elsewhere.

We need to keep working hard on raising the profile of Super League and marketing the fantastic athletes and product we have to maximise its potential.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 19, 2014
Words:305
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