SHAUN WANE says he’s totally consumed with the task of leading England to World Cup glory on home soil this year.
There is controversy over the timing of the mid-season international against the Combined Nations All Stars.
The showdown at Warrington, part of a ground-breaking triple bill which also features the England women’s and wheelchair teams, is on Friday, June 25, coinciding with a round of Super League fixtures.
That’s led to suggestions that some clubs will be unwilling to release players to the Combined Nations, thus diluting the strength of the opposition for what is Wane’s first match at the helm and forms a crucial part of his preparations for the big Autumn tournament.
Having coached Wigan from 2011-18, Wane says he understands “where clubs are coming from” in relation to balancing their needs with those of the international game, and says he will work with them in a bid to keep both parties happy.
It’s likely the RFL will set a limit of six players in total from each club being involved in the clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, with suggestions that if a club is without four or more due to call-ups by either England or the Combined Nations, a postponement of their Super League game can be sought.
“I’m a bit disappointed, because I wanted the international to be a stand-alone fixture, yet the clubs are playing,” he explained.
“I didn’t get that, so we just gave to carry on and make it work as much as possible.
“I have a good relationship with the coaches, and as a whole, the clubs are really behind us, and I will do all I can so as not to put them under pressure.
“For example, if a player is a dead-set certainty for the World Cup, I will consider taking the chance to have a look at someone else.
“At the end of the day, it’s about seeing the bigger picture of what a successful World Cup campaign across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions – and we are unified as one England – can do to boost the whole game in this country.
“I’ve been a club coach, and I’m conscious of what I’m asking for, but we also want to win the World Cup, in fact I’m obsessed with doing that, and it’s about finding a balance.”
The effects of the pandemic mean Wane will have been in post for more than 16 months by the time of the Combined Nations game.
“It’s been frustrating, obviously, but it’s the situation we’ve been in,” added the 56-year-old, who has held regular Zoom meeting with players and is planning a get-together next month.
“But now it’s hard to find the words to describe how exciting it is that things are now moving forward.
“I’ve spoken to so many people and watched so much rugby. Now I’m desperate to get out and coach, to have a game to prepare for and play and to have some stress again!”
Wane hopes to fix up a match against Fiji during the final build-up to the World Cup, which starts with England’s clash against Samoa at St James’ Park, Newcastle on Saturday, October 23.
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