Shaun Wane makes a plea for Exiles fixture in 2021

Shaun Wane is hoping to persuade the RFL to restore one or more fixtures between England the Exiles in 2021.

Wane’s tenure as England coach began in February, after he took over the job from Australian coach Wayne Bennett.

The former Wigan coach had been promised an Ashes series against Australia later this year, only for the current pandemic to end any hope of that happening.

That has left Wane hoping for at least one mid-season fixture against the Exiles in 2021 to help prepare for next year’s World Cup.

“Not having the Ashes was a shock to everybody. I’m missing the stress of games, no question about that,” said Wane.

“I was so much looking forward to that Ashes series against Australia, but it wasn’t to be.

“I would like a fixture in the middle of next year, but the wellbeing of the players is the priority.

“I’d like to see a few games if possible, but the reality is, we are all in circumstances we could never foresee coming.

“I want it to be one game or three games, however we fit it in. The potential Exiles team is a very strong one.

“I’ve sat down with Ralph (Rimmer) about what I want, and the best we can do for the World Cup preparation is the Exiles.”

The Exiles played four games against England between 2011 and 2013, with both sides winning two games each.

The inaugural game on 10 June 2011 drew a crowd of 14,174 to Headingley to see England win 16-12.

But by the time the last game was played at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on 14 June 2013, the crowd had fallen to 7,926 and England registered an easy 30-10 victory.

But Wane believes the quality of players available to the Exiles would be very high in 2021, and Wane has some ideas on how to better market it.

“Get a big ground, a big crowd and a big sponsor and let’s make it a big deal,” he said.

“Let’s make it like a Test match. The key is to make it a huge event.”

Meanwhile Wane admits that he approached St Helens star Morgan Knowles to persuade him to switch his international allegiance from Wales to England.

“I chased him. He’s a player I have admired,” said Wane.

“He’s a big-effort player, which is perfect for me. I can see him playing in a Test match.

“He stayed behind and asked me what I think he needs to work on. That speaks volumes for him as a player, that desire to improve is everything to me.”

With veteran number 13 Sean O’Loughlin now aged 37, Wane sees Knowles as his future replacement.

“Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) isn’t going to last forever,” said Wane.

“He (Knowles) sees himself jumping in there, which I can see myself.

“He’s gone head-to-head with some tough players and he’s come out on top most times.”

It isn’t just Knowles that has come into contention for World Cup selection, though, with Brisbane Broncos outside back Herbie Farnworth also being added to the England training squad.

“I’ve watched every NRL game numerous times, so I’ve seen Herbie Farnworth play and he’s going to come into the top squad as well,” added Wane.

“Both Morgan and Herbie are young and have got time to develop into leading candidates for World Cup selection.”

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