A lot has been said and written about Australia and New Zealand's decision to withdraw from the 2021 Rugby League World Cup due to concerns around the pandemic.
In keeping true to the spirit of this game we love, there's been plenty of rage, indifference and defensiveness bandied about since the news broke.
There's no doubting the risk that Covid-19 holds for players, both mental and physical.
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The United Kingdom has continuously posted high infection numbers and even with vaccine rollout well underway, over 50,000 cases were reported last week.
Players coming from the southern hemisphere would be under strict biosecurity rules for a month while competing and would also have to quarantine upon their return home.
Combine that with the mandatory eight weeks off players are entitled to and they'll have a much shorter pre-season on top of what has been an unpredictable two years.
No one can question the enormity of what is being asked of the players, in addition to what they've already done to keep the game going.
But, and there has to be a but here, the future of the game is very much at stake.
I know that's a big claim to make and a lot of people will surely shake their heads but we have to extend a glance beyond our shores for a moment.
Super League in the UK has been on the decline for years. The national side hasn't won a World Cup since 1972 and hasn't beaten Australia in a test since 2006.
Many have suggested the Australian Rugby League Commission (ALRC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) were put under pressure from clubs to withdraw.
Players are big investments I know, but were the players actually consulted?
Players such as Damien Cook and Jason Taumalolo expressed dismay at the top two teams in the world withdrawing. Sydney Roosters coach and France assistant Trent Robinson said the tournament must go on.
Former England international James Graham even went as far as accusing the NRL of acting selfishly, saying he didn't believe the withdrawal was actually made with player welfare in mind.
Self-interest in rugby league? Surely not.
Since the game split from the aristocratic Rugby Football Union in 1895 and in Australia in 1908, rugby league has always had to sleep with one eye open.
It's never been the biggest game outside of New South Wales and Queensland but its working class roots have enabled it to survive and at times thrive.
But not everywhere is Sydney or Brisbane. League worldwide continues to face the very real threat of rugby union dominating the limelight.
It's why this World Cup was so important. A tournament that preceded the Union equivalent by over 30 years has often spluttered along with inconsistencies plaguing it.
The 2000 version was a financial and competitive disaster, just ask the Russian team who conceded 110 points against the Australians.
The next, in 2008, was a shot in the arm for the game with the Kiwis upsetting the Kangaroos 34-20 in a pulsating final.
That led into 2013 in England, where record crowds turned up to watch an enthralling tournament.
In recent years the defection of stars such as Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita to play for Tonga saw the Mate Ma'a reach the semifinals of the 2017 showpiece, and then beat Australia 16-12 in a 2019 test.
State of Origin half Jerome Luai has declared he'll only represent Samoa despite being eligible for the Kangaroos.
Finally, rugby league has engaging international competition. Pacific sides have grown in such strength they now pose a very real threat to the traditional big three.
With Covid-19 robbing us of 2020 competition, time is running out to capitalise on these generational talents turning their back on Australia and New Zealand.
The ARLC and NZRL have asked the tournament be postponed to 2022 but with the Women's Euros being held in England and the Men's FIFA World Cup in Qatar starting at the end of the year, ground availability and general interest will be affected.
We are asking players to fight for the health of the sport we all love and it's one many are willing to engage in.
It's time to look beyond the NRL and State of Origin. The game is announcing itself to a global audience.
It's time for clubs to listen.
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