New England coach Wane confident that Ashes series will be given the go-ahead

ENGLAND coach Shaun Wane is confident the Ashes series will go ahead and would even “play Christmas Day in Australia” if needed to ensure it did.

In charge: England coach Shaun Wane. Picture: SWPix
In charge: England coach Shaun Wane. Picture: SWPix

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Wane revealed Hull FC interim head coach Andy Last and St Helens assistant Paul Wellens will be his deputies while team manager Jamie Peacock has stood down to be replaced by former Leeds, Castleford and Wakefield hooker Colin Maskill.

However, speaking on a conference call to journalists yesterday, the main topic was whether the three Test series against the Kangaroos, due to kick-off in Bolton on October 31, would actually take place.

With the sport suspended indefinitely last month – on both sides of the world – due to the pandemic, it has been feared the first Ashes series in 17 years would ultimately perish.

Nevertheless, the Australian NRL competition last week declared it aims to resume on May 28 offering hope that their elite players could yet still be available to tour this autumn.

“I am optimistic and very hopeful,” said Wane, the former Wigan Warriors coach who returned from a spell with Scotland Rugby Union to replace Wayne Bennett.

“I want to start coaching as soon as possible but obviously there’s other more important issues than our sport.

“Once that’s sorted, if we can get the Ashes on then fantastic.

“The way the Aussies are going about their business fills me with confidence we can get them on.”

Understandably, with the country on lockdown, Super League and the Rugby Football League has not yet said when things here will re-start but the season is certain to be extended.

Asked if he would be willing to play the Ashes even if rescheduled for December or January, Wane replied: “(Chief executive) Ralph (Rimmer) and everyone at the RFL know my view. No matter what, I’m happy - so long as it goes ahead.

“Ralph and his team will do everything they can to make sure this gets on because the Aussies are keen to get over here and get it played, and I know how important it is to get them here.

“If it’s a different date, make it fit, make it work. We adapt here all the time and we have to come together to make this work and put the game first and back it.

“I’ll play Christmas Day in Australia, it doesn’t matter to me. As long as the game is carrying on as when we come back from this things are going to be very different, so this is our chance to flex our muscles and make sure our product is very different.

“I know Ralph and his team are working seven days a week on it. The future of rugby league is in their hands and they’re in daily communication with the Australian commission.

“When I know something more positive they’ll let me know but until I’m told differently, I’m planning for it to be on.”

World champions Australia have not always had an appetite for the international game but Wane is “absolutely, 100 per cent” adamant that they want it just as much as those involved here.

He is open to the idea of Tests running alongside Super League games if the domestic competition is still going on and praised all club owners, chief executives and coaches for aiding him in the role.