ENGLAND COACH Wayne Bennett’s plans for next year’s World Cup have suffered a setback after a proposed warm weather training camp in Dubai was cancelled.
A group of 17 top Super League players were due to spend 12 days together in early-January, just a month before the start of the new campaign.
But club coaches were upset at the prospect of losing key men at a crucial time in pre-season and the camp has now been called off, though a mid-season Test against Samoa in Australia will go ahead as planned in May.
A statement issued by the RFL said: “England Rugby League’s proposed trip to Dubai at the beginning of January to take part in a warm weather training camp has been cancelled.
“Following further discussions with Super League clubs, the England coaching staff and RFL have reflected on all views and concluded that the plans that are now in place would not deliver what was initially expected.
“The England team are now completely focused on the mid-season Test in May and their preparations for the World Cup in late 2017.”
Hull’s Lee Radford, Tony Smith of Warrington Wolves and St Helens’ Keiron Cunningham had all spoken out against Bennett’s plans.
Unrest over the proposal – which would have seen clubs receive £10,000 compensation per player – increased when it was revealed Bennett would not be present for the full camp, with assistants Paul Anderson and Paul Sculthorpe due to oversee much of it.
The decision to pull the plug is an embarrassment for the RFL and will increase the pressure on Bennett following England’s poor performance in the recent Four Nations.
Meanwhile, Huddersfield Giants have signed Australian prop-forward Shannon Wakeman from Illawarra Cutters on a two-year contract.
The 26-year-old is Giants’ second signing this week, following full-back Jake Mamo who has joined them from NRL side Newcastle Knights.
Wakeman helped Cutters to the New South Wales Cup title last season and was named in the competition’s form team of the year.