Tony Smith, the England coach, called for a revival of the Other Nationalities side to give his team a more meaningful test than this woefully one-sided affair on Saturday.
England did what they had to do in Paris, with the glittering scrum-half prospect Richie Myler leading the way as they put the flaccid French to the sword in the first half. There were other good performances – notably in a strong, well-organised pack – but it was hard to draw too many conclusions from such an undemanding outing.
"I'm very disappointed that it wasn't a tougher match," Smith said. "We might see whether there's any scope for a team picked from the best overseas players in Super League. That's a match I'd like to see. We need to get stronger opposition if we're going to get better."
It would certainly be possible to field a powerful overseas 13 from Super League, starting with the Leeds and New Zealand full-back Brent Webb and going through to back-row forwards of the calibre of Bradford's Steve Menzies. It would be a side that would recall the glories of the 1950s, where the likes of Brian Bevan and Lionel Cooper played for the old Other Nationalities side on a regular basis.
The question in the 21st century is whether clubs would play ball by making sure that their overseas stars were available. The certainty is that England need tougher tasks than this and a pre-Four Nations warm-up against Wales to prepare them for Australia and New Zealand this autumn.
Having said that, a team can only play what is put in front of them and England did that to devastating effect – with nobody standing out more than Myler. Just 19 years old and watched by what seemed like his entire extended family, the Salford scrum-half set a new individual record for a match against France with 30 points.
His three tries were all the result of support play that was reminiscent of a young Shaun Edwards, but he was more proud of a couple of tries he set up with classic pieces of skill. It also says a good deal for his confidence, even cockiness, that he volunteered for the goal-kicking duties he has not carried out since his schooldays and landed nine from 12 attempts.
France: Villegas (Toulouse); Vaccari (Catalans), Baile (Catalans), Planas (Toulouse), Duport (Catalans); Bosc (Catalans), Murcia (Limoux); Guisset (Catalans, capt), Bentley (Catalans), Casty (Catalans), Gossard (Catalans), Mounis (Catalans), Anselme (Toulouse). Substitutes used: Martins (Pia), Gagliazzo (Carcassonne), Griffi (Toulouse), Barthau (UTC)
England: Briscoe (Hull KR); Fox (Hull KR), Shenton (Castleford), Atkins (Wakefield), Hall (Leeds); McGuire (Leeds), Myler (Salford); Morley (Warrington), Moore (Huddersfield), Peacock (Leeds, capt), Hock (Wigan), Westwood (Warrington), Burgess (Bradford). Substitutes used: Roby (St Helens), Crabtree (Huddersfield), Graham (St Helens), Clubb (Harlequins).
Referee: J Maxwell (Australia)Reuse content