Purtill impressed after England Knights camp
England Knights coach Keiron Purtill has praised the attitude and commitment of the players under his control after he took charge of his first Knights training camp earlier this week.
Purtill was named as Knights coach last week and jumped straight into the deep end by taking charge in camp and preparing his side for competitive tests against France and Samoa this October.
“It was very exciting to be involved. The atmosphere around the camp was very professional and I felt part of the group straight away,” said Purtill. “There’s a great ethos and identity being built around the group and it was great to see the way the players approached being in an England camp.
“We’re trying to create a two team mentality with England so that players see it as playing for their club but also for England and that way they’ll come together as an England team and not as a group of individuals from separate teams.
England coach Steve McNamara has been working hard to build a new structure within the England system since his appointment as full-time national coach last summer and Purtill believes the new structure will prove a great benefit to the future success of England on the international stage.
“That new pathway that’s been created gives each team their next target,” he said. “That will encourage the Knights players to push for senior status and Academy players have the incentive to get into the Knights and that type of competition will keep everyone at each level progressing and improving their game.
“It was very encouraging to see a few of the faces who were involved in the under 18 side when I was last involved in 2005, who have now progressed and are in the Knights set up. It goes to show the pathway is improving and it’s becoming even clearer now with the Knights filling that void which used to exist between 18’s and senior representative level.
“We want a bigger pool of players who know what it means to be part of an England side and who know what is required to be an England player. That type of consistency will make the progression between the levels easier and help players deliver the goods on the field.”
The England coaching set-up has also changed drastically in recent years and with Purtill joining McNamara, Daryl Powell and Dave Elliott in the England back-room staff, there is now a system in place where English coaches are in charge at all levels.
“It’s a positive thing for me to be involved with Steve, Daryl and Dave in the England set up,” said Purtill. “We’re all going through our Level 4 coaching qualifications at the moment as well so it’s great to see that there are opportunities in the game for British coaches and the next step is to get more British coaches involved in Super League.
“I think there is a lack of British coaches in the top flight currently. Some clubs are taking the option of going for proven success and when you see the sort of instant success Michael Maguire has brought to Wigan it’s hard to ignore, but what we don’t want to see is home grown coaches becoming disillusioned with the opportunities open to them in the game.”
Purtill returns to his position with St Helens this weekend but he’s already looking forward to getting back into the Knights camp later on this year when he’ll be aiming to steer the side to victories in their first competitive tests which come against Samoa on October 22 and France on October 15.
“We get back together later in the season and then we have two games to prepare for,” he said. “It will be very important for us to get the environment right and get the players working as a unit but it’s also important that the players enjoy themselves and enjoy the best part about being a player - which is going out there and winning.”