World Cup postponement will actually help England, says Shaun Wane

ENGLAND coach Shaun Wane says he will make changes for the game against France and feels the World Cup postponement could improve his squad’s chances of success in 2022.

Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman. Picture: John Clifton/
Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman. Picture: John Clifton/

They should have opened the tournament against Samoa in Newcastle on October 23 but – due to Australia and New Zealand’s withdrawal over fears about the pandemic – it was put back 12 months. Instead, on that day, the national side will now fly to Perpignan to face France for only Wane’s second game in charge since taking over in February last year.

The first was June’s 26-24 defeat against a Combined Nations All Stars side when a number of English players, such as Hull FC’s Jake Connor and Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary, actually appeared for the opposition.

Wane will name his squad on October 17 with the likes of young Leeds Rhinos centre Harry Newman – impressing on his return from a badly broken leg – and Wigan Warriors’ 20-year-old Londoner back-row Kai Pearce Paul on his radar.

Asked who has been impressing him as Super League enters the play-offs, he said: “There’s quite a few players. I’m impressed by the standard. Some will drop out of the squad and some will come in. I’m watching everyone. There’s Kai Pearce Paul at Wigan, a young kid who’s going well.

“There’s many great young players coming through the system who will push their way either into Paul Anderson’s (England Knights) squad or mine for the World Cup.

“Harry’s done a great job. I’ve been messaging him and speaking to him. He’s done fantastically well. Tom Davies at Catalans has come back from serious injury, played okay and then Jermaine McGillvary doesn’t get in that game, plays for the All Stars and his stats are through the roof.

“It just shows the success of the All Stars game. It did exactly what we needed it to do.”

The hope is some of the younger players will have another 12 montsh to hone their talent.

Asked if the postponement has improved England’s chances, Wane said: “Absolutely. We are in good shape. The Super League clubs are doing a great job with these players to produce them. We just need to produce more and better players.”

He also paid tribute to St Helens and England hooker James Roby who, at 35, has retired from international rugby league saying “2022 is a year too far.”

Wane was “gutted” to not be able to coach him and said: “He’d have played in the World Cup had it gone ahead this year but I understand the reason.”