Rugby League World Cup: England coach Steve McNamara heading to Australia
Last Updated: 17/06/13 1:11pm
Steve McNamara: Off to Australia for World Cup check-up
England coach Steve McNamara is heading to Australia on Wednesday for a three-week trip to check on his NRL-based players ahead of the World Cup.
McNamara, fresh from casting his eye over his Super League charges in last Friday's mid-season international against the Exiles, will take in 10 matches in 20 days, including the second State of Origin clash in Brisbane.
Two of England's Australia-based World Cup candidates are currently sidelined through injury but Brisbane centre Jack Reed (fractured eye socket) and South Sydney prop Luke Burgess (shoulder) are both expected back long before the World Cup.
McNamara will be able to watch Burgess' younger brothers Sam and George in action for the Rabbitohs as well former St Helens captain James Graham playing for Canterbury Bulldogs, Gareth Widdop for Melbourne and Chris Heighington for Cronulla.
"I always aim to get over to Australia at least once a year to keep up to date with what is happening in the NRL and to meet up with the England players playing in the southern hemisphere," said McNamara.
"I have been invited to observe Queensland's training camp as they build-up to their game in Brisbane.
"I have also organised meetings with the England players to keep them updated and engaged with our plans as we continue to look ahead to the Rugby League World Cup.
"Even though I speak to our Australian-based players at least couple of times a month, the opportunity to see them in person is vital.
"They are all excited about this year and representing England on home soil. It is a big deal for them."
McNamara will also take the opportunity to talk up England's World Cup prospects during his stay.
"I think it is important to continue to spread the word on the work we are doing at international level," he said.
"Our boys are doing us proud in the NRL and for the first time in a number of years there is massive respect for our players and their influence within the game.
"It is important to embrace the sport and there is no better way to create awareness of the international game than speaking to the Australian media in their own backyard."