Upfront: The League Express opinion – Mon 22nd March 2021
It was great to hear Shaun Wane, Craig Richards and Tom Coyd chewing the fat over the forthcoming World Cup as mid-season internationals for England’s men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams were announced last week.
What a shame not everyone shares their enthusiasm for the June triple bill, with the men playing the Combined Nations All Stars and the women facing Wales in an historic double-header at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, on Friday, June 25.
Then the day after, the wheelchair team take on Wales at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
None of the three sides have played since 2019 (technically, the last England men’s game was in 2018, since it was Great Britain the year after).
That’s not the only thing they have in common, and it was interesting to hear the trio of national coaches commenting on the value of sharing ideas ahead of the first World Cup which will bring all three versions of the sport together under the same banner.
While the tournament organisers have coined the phrase ‘one game’, Wane talked about ‘One England’ as he looked towards his first match in charge, which will be some 16 months after his appointment.
“I speak to Craig and Tom regularly,” he said.
“We are England, a tight bunch, and it’s exciting to have all three sides on the same bill in June. I think it’s great what the RFL have done with these three matches.
“If all three teams can do well in a tournament which is here on our doorstep, think what a boost it would be for Rugby League in this country.
“It’s a game for everyone, whether playing or watching, and we want to spread that message.”
Richards added: “It’s great to get feedback off Shaun, and it confirms we are on the right track in our preparations.”
Meanwhile Coyd confirmed: “Being able to draw on Shaun’s coaching experience is great. There are so many lessons to be learned.”
While the indoor nature of wheelchair Rugby League has made life particularly difficult for Coyd, Wane has clearly been left frustrated and disappointed by Super League’s decision to arrange a round of matches around what had already been set as an international date.
Both the former Wigan coach and especially Tim Sheens, who has been put in charge of the Combined Nations, will have to work more closely than ever with their club counterparts in order to get the selected players to their respective team bases.
It is to be hoped the seasoned Australian can assembled an All Stars side worthy of the title and able to give England a thorough test in such a crucial fixture.
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