Elliott Whitehead accepted Great Britain’s tour had been a failure before stressing the need for a mid-season Test before England’s Ashes series against Australia next year.
Revived after 12 years in hibernation, the Lions crashed to a 28-10 defeat at the hands of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, completing a dismal 4-0 series whitewash.
It followed previous losses against a Tonga Invitational XIII and New Zealand, twice, and raised further questions over coach Wayne Bennett’s future with the Rugby Football League.
Canberra Raiders second-rower Whitehead was honest enough to admit: “It has been a disappointing tour all round and we didn’t turn up like we should have done.
“I think all the boys know we’ve let ourselves down. We’ll go away and hopefully we can come back next year as a group and fix stuff up.”
It remains to be seen if Bennett will remain in charge heading into next year’s home Ashes series with England, who host the 2021 World Cup 12 months later.
But Whitehead is adamant that they need to be better prepared than Great Britain were and stressed the need for a mid-season Test after it did not happen this year.
The former Bradford and Catalans forward reasoned: “I believe the NRL clubs and Super League clubs really need to invest and let players have time off.
“I feel we really missed the mid-season Test this year as a group and hopefully we can get it back next year.
“That will help us going into the Australia series at the end of the year.”
Under-fire Bennett's contract with the RFL has now expired and chief executive Ralph Rimmer spoke last week about not making any decision on the Australian's future until the completion of a wide-ranging review.
In a statement published in the wake of Saturday's upset, the governing body says nothing has changed.
The statement said: “Like everyone involved on the tour, we are obviously bitterly disappointed by the results of the Test matches - for those loyal and passionate supporters who have followed the team in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and for everyone backing the team from home.
“As stated last week, an objective review of all aspects of the tour will take place when the tour party returns and that timetable has not altered.”