Talking Rugby League: Who will coach the Combined Nations All Stars?

England will play the Combined Nations All Stars again in June this year, on the weekend of 17-19 June, although the venue, precise date and time have yet to be confirmed.

Last year the All Stars ground out a narrow two-point victory over England, which must have been a significant disappointment for England coach Shaun Wane.

The All Stars were coached last year by Tim Sheens and there hasn’t yet been an announcement about who will coach them this year.

The obvious candidate would be St Helens coach Kristian Woolf, especially given the fact that the All Stars will wear a shirt that is designed to help Tongans who have suffered the impact of the tsunami that hit the island just over a week ago.

Woolf will coach Tonga in the World Cup and he would be a formidable opponent for Shaun Wane.

And two World Cup coaches going head-to-head would be a major draw for the Rugby League public.

The two questions that need to be answered are whether Woolf would want the job and whether St Helens would allow him to take it if he did.

I would be very surprised if the answer is negative to either question.

Fortunately there are no Super League matches scheduled for that weekend, unlike last year, and the crowd was limited to 4,000 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in accordance with the Covid related regulations at the time.

Sheens had struggled to put a team together and it was a great credit to him that he managed to get the result.

But this season both coaches should be able to select from strength and the game should be seen as being much more significant, hopefully with no crowd limit.

This season the All Stars won’t have Jackson Hastings to guide them round the pitch but they should be able to call on Mitchell Pearce of the Catalans Dragons, if his form merits it.

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