Rugby League legends Paul Sculthorpe MBE, Kevin Sinfield MBE and Jamie Peacock MBE have all extended their contracts to remain part of the England Performance Unit, in a restructure in the backroom set-up.
Sculthorpe, the only man to win Super League’s Man of Steel award in consecutive years, has been appointed England Pathways Coach, and will provide the path from England Juniors to England Knights, after he was involved in the Knights Tour or Papua New Guinea.
Sinfield, meanwhile, has committed to his role as RFL Rugby Director until 2022, which will see him oversee the programme for the 2021 World Cup on home soil, while his former Leeds Rhinos teammate and current colleague Peacock has also extending his contract as England Team Manager until 2021. The pair both joined their roles fresh after retirement in 2016.
Former Huddersfield Giants Paul Anderson will continue his role as Knights head coach in a consultancy role, after joining Warrington’s backroom staff at the end of last season. David Elliott, who lead England Academy to a 2-0 series victory over Australia Schoolboys last month, will remain National Programme Manager and England Academy coach.
Ben Jones, previously the Research and Innovation Manager, takes a new role as England Performance Director; Jane Phillips takes over as Head of England Operations; and Barry Frost continues as Head of Performance Analysis, while further announcements about the England Women and Wheelchair coaching staff will be made later this year.
Ralph Rimmer, the RFL chief executive, said: “We created the England Performance Unit last January after proposals from Kevin Sinfield, and the results for 2018 speak for themselves. Our senior England men’s team won four games out of five Tests played, three of them against New Zealand.
“England Women had a big win in France – although we recognise that securing more international competition for them is a major priority for 2019 and beyond – and on one memorable Saturday in October, the Knights made it three wins out of three for our England teams when they won their first international in Papua New Guinea.
“That was followed by the superb performances of Dave Elliott’s England Academy team against the Australian Schoolboys. So it’s great to be able to announce the news that Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Paul Sculthorpe – three truly outstanding players of the Super League era – will retain key roles in the EPU, as we continue to build towards hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
“We recognise there is a need for clarity about international fixtures for all our national teams – men’s, women’s and wheelchair – and rest assured we are working hard behind the scenes to allow us to make further positive announcements as soon as possible.
“The EPU is delivering exactly as we had hoped, which is thanks to those involved and also the support of the clubs. We remain focused on success in the RLWC2021 and beyond, as we all understand the impact this can have for the sport in the UK – and are therefore delighted to have secured these key personnel on that journey.”