England abandon plans for Dubai training camp

England’s controversial training camp to Dubai has been cancelled.

A squad of around 20 players were expected to go on the two-week trip at the start of January, but plans have been scrapped after they caused unrest among Super League coaches.

Hull FC head coach Lee Radford, and the Saints chief, Keiron Cunningham, had both been critical of the plans, with the latter calling them “abysmal”.

League Express revealed on Monday that each club would be compensated £10,000 per player that went on the trip, on the same day it was revealed 41 jobs were at risk within the Rugby Football League. Along with the cost of compensation, it was believed the trip would exceed hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Criticism was also aimed at the fact Wayne Bennett, who is believed to have strongly pushed for the camp, would only be in attendance for two or three days due to his commitment to Brisbane Broncos. No NRL players were also going to attend as they are entitled to seven weeks off.

The reason for the trip being cancelled remains unclear, however, England RL released a statement, claiming the trip had been cancelled after further consultation with Super League clubs. The competition’s head coaches met last Thursday, with the camp discussed.

The statement said: “Following further discussions with Super League clubs, the England coaching staff and RFL have reflected on all views and concluded that the plans that are now in place would not deliver what was initially expected.”

Criticism of the camp has been prominent for weeks, despite Bennett saying that he had the support of Super League clubs. Earlier this month Cunningham launched a scathing attack on Bennett and his plans, saying it wouldn’t be accepted in the NRL.

“The whole system is absolutely abysmal, both what has been put forward and what has been accepted by the powers-that-be,” he said.

“They’re talking about player welfare more and more in Australia because they have some five-day turnarounds. Over here, you throw in another ten games, a shorter pre-season, two double-header weekends and a mid-season Test match and you’ve got a mess.

“It’s going to be really tough to contend with and I won’t see my England lads for a long time. I’m still looking for explanations from people, but I’m not getting them.

“There’s one thing alone that Wayne Bennett wants and that’s to win the World Cup. I’ll leave it to people’s own discretion to suggest why that’s the case. But it seems like he doesn’t care about our competition. That’s how it feels.”

On Monday, Radford told League Express: “I completely want a successful England side, but taking them away now, knowing full well a lot of them won’t be participating in the mid-season Test because it’ll be mainly NRL-based players, I don’t know what we want to achieve from the camp.

“The fact the head coach was so adamant he wanted this camp and he’s only there for two or three days, it says a lot about it.”

England will now get together for the mid-season Test against Samoa in May.