Stefan Ratchford has called for more opportunities for England to get together and prepare for next year’s World Cup.
The fixtures have been revealed today for the rescheduled tournament, exactly a year before it will reach its climax with finals at Old Trafford.
The year’s delay has given Shaun Wane extra time to work with his men’s team, having only had two matches since taking on the job in early 2020.
The Covid pandemic decimated the international calendar in his first year in charge and meant even get-togethers were infrequent.
Wane only took charge of his first match this June, against a Combined Nations team and clashing with a round of Super League fixtures, before last month’s post-season victory in France with far from his strongest squad available.
Ratchford, who played at the 2017 World Cup, was among those to miss out on the latter fixture to have wrist surgery, and he believes England will be in better shape next year.
“First and foremost it was good for the lads to actually get a game in a competitive international,” reflected the Warrington Wolves fullback.
“It was difficult with so many players being unavailable, lads coming in at the last minute, and lads playing in the Grand Final and only joining the week of the game.
“The first 20 minutes was really good and a really positive start, then as the game went on it got disjointed and there were a few errors. But that’s down to a lack of time together, not having games together, not much training together.
“Obviously it’s not been ideal but it’s good in a way that the World Cup was postponed as well. We managed a couple of bits together and the lads that were involved in that squad have got a game together.
“Hopefully next year there will be a lot of opportunities for lads to get together in meetings, training sessions and all that sort of stuff leading into the World Cup.
“Everyone who has been involved in the squad in the last 12-18 months since Waney took over were all looking forward to being selected for a World Cup.
“But I think delaying it a year, hopefully with full houses and with every team involved in the World Cup, will be a big boost to the game.”