McNamara anticipating fantastic times ahead
England coach Steve McNamara is predicting the “biggest season in living memory” as Super League XVIII sets the scene for the 2013 World Cup.
The 14-nation World Cup starts just two weeks after the Grand Final takes place at Old Trafford on Saturday 5 October, by which time McNamara says every player will have had the opportunity to stake their claim for selection.
Speaking at the official launch of the 2013 Super League season at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium today, McNamara says the incentive of securing World Cup spots can help send playing standards soaring.
“The next 10 months are going to be fantastic as we embark on what I believe is the biggest Super League season in living memory,” he said.
“Every English player who has ambitions of playing in the Rugby League World Cup now has the chance to prove himself in what will be the most intense Super League competition we have seen.
“It is a new campaign where every game will matter. Established players that have been part of the England group since it was created three years ago will want to continue to set the standards and the young talent coming through can also push to be in the squad that will bid to make history this autumn.
“It’s an open selection policy: we are committed to selecting the best players and I hope to see every player produce his best throughout every round of Super League and all the way to the 2013 Grand Final.”
Wigan Warriors and England full-back Sam Tomkins admits the World Cup will provide extra motivation for players on the fringes of selection.
“It’s an incentive for players to play well,” he said. “For those on the edge of the international game, it’s time for them to step up.
“There is no better time than a World Cup in your own country. It’s a massive incentive.
“If you miss this one, you’ve got to wait four years for another one in another country.”
McNamara, who will outline his plans to his elite training squad members at a get-together on Wednesday, intends to take them back to South Africa after the Grand Final to finalise his World Cup preparations with another high-altitude training camp.
“The camp last October was a big success for us,” said McNamara, whose side romped to big wins over France and Wales.
“The impact it had on training and conditioning was invaluable.”
McNamara, who is due to announce a revised squad on March 4, will also have access to his players throughout the season with a series of camps at Loughborough University.