TOMORROW at Wembley our top rugby league players need to reclaim some ground and put the game back on the map.
That might seem needlessly alarmist, but despite what you might think the 13-a-side code is dropping off the national radar.
So the Sky viewing figures for Super League hold up well, and the match attendances are good, but the truth of the matter is that as far as RL goes we are merely preaching to the converted.
The return to Wembley tomorrow, for the Four Nations clashes between first Wales and New Zealand and then between England and Australia, have served to throw a rather illuminating spotlight on how far the game has come – or rather what has been lost.
Turning the clock back the television previews have been showing Jonathan Davies racing in at the corner on the north London turf after throwing an outrageous dummy and the likes of Ellery Hanley and Martin Offiah strutting their stuff against the Kangaroos.
However, for all the feel-good factor these images invoke, it also betrays the fact that in those days certain rugby league players were genuinely household names.
Offiah and Hanley did not end up on Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice, respectively, because the people casting the programmes were short of competitors, these guys were bone fide celebrities – admittedly at a certain level but still known to the greater British public.
Travel anywhere in the country now ahead of the big showdown against the oldest enemy and as soon as you get out of RL territory – the M62 corridor – I would wager that few could name any of the England side for tomorrow.
To you and me Sam Tomkins might be the best thing since sliced bread for a while, but to Mr Generalsportsfan of Harpenden in the Home Counties he has not made the mark that someone like Offiah did.
So given the benefit of being on terrestrial television and with the biggest scalp on the planet there to be delivered to a sports viewing public who have just seen the England rugby union teamembarrassingly implode at a World Cup, the time is ripe for the England rugby league team to make themselves household names.