Hampered England Rugby League coach Shaun Wane remains hopeful 2021 World Cup will go ahead

SHAUN WANE is optimistic that the 2021 Rugby League World Cup will get the go ahead with a decision on whether to proceed with the tournament set to be made by organisers this week.

By Ben McKenna
Sunday, 27th June 2021, 5:00 pm
GAME ON: Combined Nations All Stars' Ken Sio celebrates scoring a try against England in Warrington on Friday. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
GAME ON: Combined Nations All Stars' Ken Sio celebrates scoring a try against England in Warrington on Friday. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The England head coach is preparing his side to get the competition under way against Samoa at St James Park in Newcastle but the 16 nations involved do not yet know if the tournament will go ahead this autumn or be postponed until next year.

The uncertainty lies with southern hemisphere nations after NRL clubs were reported to be reluctant to release players, who would have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to Australia.

With the United Kingdom’s vaccination programme on track, there is optimism there won’t be a delay to the tournament which has been planned for five years.

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A 12-month delay would see the Rugby League World Cup clash with the FIFA World Cup, which has been moved to later in the year due to the scorching summer temperatures of the host country, Qatar.

“I don’t worry about things. Whatever happens will happen,” said Wane.

“I am really hoping it will be on, I am sure it will. My way of thinking is pretty optimistic, things are getting better and we will crack on with our preparations. We will still train as many times as we can per month, like we have been doing.

“As far as I am concerned we start in October and will meet with the players again next month.”

TOP TEAM: All Stars' co-captain Jackson Hastings holds the winners trophy aloft after his side's victory over England. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Wane’s time as England head coach has been disrupted constantly by the Covid-19 pandemic but he insisted: “It is life. It has been that way with every thing.

“At the end of the day we are a proud sport but with everything else happening around the world, it is minor what we are going through.”

Wane’s tenure as England head coach got off to a losing start as they were beaten 26-24 by the Combined Nations All Stars in Warrington on Friday evening.

Both sides had been hit by disruption in the lead-up to the game, with the All Stars forced to name England internationals Jake Connor and Jermaine McGillvary in their line-up. Connor set up two tries while McGillvary scored one at the start of the second half.

Combined Nations All Stars' Ken Sio scores a try in the 26-24 win over England. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“The All Stars are a big, athletic team and I knew we would be up against it when you looked at the team they picked,” added Wane. “I thought Jermaine played well and scored a good try. Jake showed some good skill but had to come off at the end. The defence from both teams was quite good but they were just a bit smarter with the ball than us.”

Leeds Rhinos’ Ash Handley made his England debut but was forced off in the first half after coming off the bench.

“He is good. He got a head clash and had to come off for a HIA,” confirmed Wane.

“I am gutted for him but I am sure he will get a chance some time soon.”

OPTIMISTIC: England Rugby League head coach, Shaun Wane. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com