Super League chief executive Robert Elstone has criticised England coach Wayne Bennett for suggesting ex-Wigan forward Ryan Sutton has improved his chances of international recognition by moving to Australia’s NRL.
On Tuesday, Bennett said “we wouldn’t have seen the potential” if Sutton had continued to play in England.
But an unhappy Elstone hit back: “It does feel wrong that the coach of our national team is linking a move to the NRL so closely to the award of international honours.”
Elstone added: “None of us should lose sight of the fact that the Super League competition has developed these players and all aspects of the game on this side of the world will benefit by them staying.
“Securing and retaining the world’s best players is a priority for Super League.
“Quite rightly, and even more so now as we are nearing discussions around a new broadcast deal, it is seen by our clubs as fundamental to the future success of the competition.”
Sutton, 23, played for Wigan Warriors from 2014 to 2018 before agreeing a two-year deal with NRL club Canberra Raiders.
Bennett was speaking in his capacity as Great Britain coach after being appointed to lead a Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea at the end of the season.