Steve McNamara has spoken to Leeds Rhinos prop Adam Cuthbertson about the prospect of the Australian playing for England.
The national coach has been in the country this week after flying back from Down Under where his day job is as Sydney Roosters’ assistant coach.
McNamara has attended Super League games to cast an eye on his players and potential representatives ahead of the Test series with New Zealand this autumn.
Sydney-born Cuthbertson, whose father hails from Manchester, has been a revelation for Leeds in his first season since joining from Newcastle Knights on a four-year deal.
The forward, 30, has expressed a desire to play with England and McNamara is contemplating that prospect – without saying it will happen.
“There’s a lot of players who qualify to play for England for one reason or another, but it’s really important we keep the identity of the England team,” he said, having picked Wests Tigers’ Chris Heighington in the 2011 Four Nations and, more successfully, New Zealand-born Rangi Chase.
“We’re not the kind of country who every four years we shuffle players in for a World Cup to strengthen the team – the England identity is paramount.
“We’re always looking at ways to improve our playing squad and performance, and if a player like Adam was available, wanted to play and we were convinced the reasons he wanted to do it were the right ones, then we would consider that selection, yes.
“And, yes, I have spoken to Adam.”
The bulk of McNamara’s 2014 Four Nations squad met up with the coach earlier this week for a get-together to speak about the Kiwis’ visit but it is understood Cuthbertson was not involved.
However, Leeds duo Stevie Ward, 21, and Liam Sutcliffe, 20, along with Wigan’s ex-Bradford Bulls second row John Bateman, 21, and Warrington’s 20-year-old Ben Currie, were all invited along with McNamara hinting they could potentially debut this year.
Alex Walmsley, the in-form uncapped St Helens prop who hails from Dewsbury, was also in attendance as his own hopes of breaking through stay on track.
Having visited Castleford for their game with Huddersfield Giants on Thursday evening, McNamara was at his former club Hull FC last night, no doubt taking a keen look at Walmsley, among others, as they faced Saints.
Meanwhile, the coach – who has also visited the FA’s St George’s Park training facility in Staffordshire where England will set up camp in October – believes Super League’s new structure is already reaping rewards for the national team.
“It is working,” he said. “You only have to look at the closeness of the comp’ and see how intense it is. Everyone isn’t sure whether they’re going to make the top eight or whether they’re going to fight to stay in Super League.
“The international games we’ve been involved in have been fine margins over the last couple of years. Unfortunately we’ve been on the wrong end of those fine margins, though.
“Our England programme has helped to increase performance but the domestic competition changing is done in a way that increases the strength of the game.
“The best games here are very comparable with the NRL’s best.”