Rugby League

World Club Series 2016: Sydney Roosters' Trent Robinson angry at missed opportunity

Already besieged by a perfect storm of controversy and misfortune, Sydney Roosters are angry at being denied the opportunity to play last weekend.

The tricolours will blood 19-year-old Jayden Nikorima in the halves on Friday night against St Helens, with Mitchell Pearce in rehab, Boyd Cordner out injured and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves still unready to return from a knee injury.

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Now coach Trent Robinson has spoken of his frustration at being denied the opportunity to play his former club Catalans last weekend.

"It was about helping my former club but it was also about expanding the game," Robinson told Fairfax Media at the World Club Series launch in Manchester yesterday.

Testing times: Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
Testing times: Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson. Photo: Jessica Hromas

"The reason the Roosters are here is that we want to help the international game and France is one of those ones, as we saw in the Test matches, who are teetering.

"They're a rich area of rugby league and sometimes they need a kick. We were trying to provide that and I think we were within a week of doing that.

"It's disappointing. But I think it should be thought about. We want to develop our game. The reason this competition exists is to develop the game.

"Sometimes it's hard for the lower-placed teams to attract NRL teams, It's about the RFL facilitating that in future years."

Under the Roosters' proposal, last Saturday's Catalans-Hull game would have been switched to this weekend. There is a precedent such a fixture – London played Manly and Melbourne, in season, before World Club Challenge matches in 2009 and 2010.

But Super League general manager Blake Solly explained: "When this was put to us, the draw had already been announced.

"There is considerable risk involved for the host clubs in the World Club Series and St Helens had taken on that financial risk and they weren't keen.

"Also, Hull came to us and sort of said 'what?' in response to the idea of switching their game.

"So those are basically the reasons the game wasn't sanctioned."

Robinson countered: "The draw came out and we had been negotiating before the draw. To be honest, I don't think it has anything to do with St Helens

"If we want to play a game beforehand, that's up to us."

Adding insult the injury was the criticism the Roosters received for their Plan B at the weekend – a training camp in Dubai, where league official Sol Mokdad was jailed last year and the sport remains illegal as a self-governed entity.

Asked if he knew about Mokdad, Roosters captain Jake Friend said: "What? No. Nothing."

Robinson did not want to speak about the status of rugby league in Dubai because he said he did not know enough about the subject.

But he stressed local rugby union sevens officials welcomed the Roosters warmly and there was a good knowledge of rugby league. The club may return to the UAE

Rugby League International Federation chairman Nigel Wood was at Monday's launch in his capacity as RFL chief executive but did not comment on league in the UAE or on the Roosters going there.