Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara will be watching next month’s World Cup with bated breath as half of his squad takes part in the tournament, including the captains of England and France.
The Dragons have a full team of 13 in the France squad alone, including club and country skipper Ben Garcia.
Fullback Sam Tomkins is expected to lead England so long as his troubling knee injury is up to the task and McNamara is hoping his marquee player and fellow Dragons’ team-mates come through the tournament unscathed.
Tomkins nursed his knee through the final stages of this year’s Super League season, as did Garcia, who has had to deal with a recurring serious injury to his ear.
The Dragons and former England coach said: “Sam is in England getting checked out by the medical staff and they are happy.
“He’s had some ongoing problems but he’s closer to getting to the bottom of all of those.
“He knows the work he needs to do to keep it as strong as he can. There’s nothing major there with Sam that will stop him.
“There’s a short-term plan going into the World Cup and a long-term plan for him going into next season and we are comfortable with that.
“His knee has been the issue but we finished late last year after getting to the Grand Final. Then the season started early so there was little time for proper preparation.
“We’ve seen it at most clubs; the season has taken its toll on everybody.
“World Cup year is not ideal but next season is starting a little later, although not late enough in my opinion, but there will be a couple more weeks for him to recuperate after the World Cup.”
Catalans’ new signing, 30-year-old former Sydney Roosters prop Sio Siua Taukeiaho, is expected to play for Tonga in the World Cup, while Tyrone May is likely to feature with Samoa and Michael McIlorum and Mike McMeeken could be teaming up with Tomkins for England.
McIlorum, who has signed a new one-year contract extension, picked up both Player and Players’ Player of the Year awards, while NRL-bound Joe Chan was crowned rookie of the year.
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.