England international Josh Hodgson is holding out hope that this year's rugby league World Cup will go ahead despite Australia and New Zealand withdrawing from the tournament.
The Australian Rugby League Commission and NZRL issued a joint statement on Thursday citing player welfare and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the withdrawal.
The decision left organisers fuming, claiming players had been denied the right to make their own calls and that they themselves had only been given a few minutes' notice the withdrawal announcement was imminent.
Rugby Football League chairman Simon Johnson savaged the decision, saying it was "selfish, parochial and cowardly".
Canberra star Hodgson said it was disappointing, but he didn't believe simply postponing the event until 2022 would solve the issue.
"We've got to understand as a game, that the football World Cup's on next year as well," Hodgson said.
"We do want to push to be as big as football and as big as those top games in the world, make the game bigger like we always preach over here about taking it to Western Australia and South Australia and all these places, we've got to put it on the biggest stage and you've got to do it at the right time.
"You do it alongside a football World Cup, it massively overshadows it."
Hodgson is adamant he'll play if the World Cup does go ahead as scheduled, despite the prospect of extended time in bubble conditions and quarantine periods upon any return to Australia after the November 27 final.
"If you can try and grow the game and you can try and represent your country whether it's tough or not, you've got a short career and if that's what you got to do, I reckon that's what you've got to try and do," he said.
"That's my thoughts on it but obviously I'm in a lot different position than the rest of the people going over there.
"I understand people's reasons and it's not unreasonable the reasons that they've come up with but I'm just hoping we can get it going."
The 31-year-old also conceded the absence of the Kangaroos and Kiwis would take plenty of gloss off the competition.
"You want the best teams there, no matter what competition it is."
Australian Associated Press