England head coach Steve McNamara insists he was fully prepared to pick his toughest England squad yet, after the 34-strong party met at Loughborough earlier this week.
McNamara has drawn criticism for leaving the likes of Kevin Brown and Marc Sneyd out of the squad, but a clutch of youngsters have been named in what appears to be an exciting squad. And although the England boss expected the bulk of his World Cup squad involved, he also knew he would be including a batch of fresh talent.
When asked if he thought it would be the toughest squad he’d picked, McNamara said: “Yes, I think I did would be tough, based on the fact that the England programmes have been aligned.
“Someone like Joe Burgess has been in the system for a while, and I’ve seen him play on tour for England Under 18s and develop into Wigan’s 1st team squad. It’s great that Dave Elliot has implemented some of the stuff we do at that level.
“People like John Bateman and various other young players I imagined would come in. I imagined, too, the core of the World Cup squad being involved in this. I’ve got a huge amount of trust in that group with a lot of good young promising players too and Michael Shenton coming back in is a great story and someone like Craig Huby as well is fantastic for us.”