McNamara impressed by Ferres
Huddersfield Giants back-row forward Brett Ferres has played himself into the reckoning for a World Cup spot, according to England coach Steve McNamara.
The 26-year-old former Castleford Tigers player was dropped from McNamara’s elite training squad after suffering a dip in form in 2012 but has been in sparkling form for the Giants, who top Super League after the opening two rounds.
McNamara will announce a revised 32-man squad in three weeks’ time, in readiness for the first get-together at RAF Cranwell, and says several players from outside last year’s squad have caught his eye in the first two weeks of the season.
“There’s a fair few,” he said. “Obviously Huddersfield in round one were very good and Brett Ferres in particular had a very good game.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the last couple of years with people and we know where most of them are at but there are always one or two that jump out at you.
“Chris Hill (of Warrington Wolves) was a great example last year and Brett has had a great start to this year.”
McNamara, who was speaking at the launch of the Festival of World Cups in Leeds, will see his England team in action just once before they take on Australia in the opening match in Cardiff on October 26.
Last year’s two-match international exiles series has been trimmed to a solitary encounter in Warrington on June 14 but McNamara has no complaints over the decision.
“In an ideal world we’d like to go to a three-game series but, with the number of games in Super League and the length of our season, it is very difficult,” he said.
“It puts a lot of strain on our players. There is a balance between playing more as a group and over-playing and we certainly don’t want that in World Cup year.”
McNamara was accompanied at today’s launch at Leeds Civic Hall by Leeds Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield, who took over as national captain last summer from Jamie Peacock and is in pole position to lead England into the World Cup.
“Kev is our current captain,” McNamara said. “He’s done a tremendous job and he will remain the captain as long as he’s in the team. He’s aware of that, he fully understands that.
“Kev’s everything you would want from a captain. His form was great last year and he’s got to make sure he does that again this year.”
The 14-team tournament will be preceded in the summer by five other World Cups all hosted by England from July 3-15.
Tournaments featuring women, police and students will be held in West Yorkshire, with the finals taking place at Headingley, while the Armed Forces World Cup will be held at Colchester Garrison and the Wheelchair competition takes place at Medway Park in Gillingham.
“The festival will be a wonderful international celebration of rugby league and showcase the diversity in the sport,” Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood said at the launch.
“This is the first time all the competitions have been staged together in this way and I am sure that both the athletes and volunteers involved will inspire people, especially those new to the sport, to participate in rugby league.”
Corporal Chris Gordon, from the 90 Signals Unit based at RAF Leeming, attended today’s launch just four hours before embarking on a fourth tour to Afghanistan.
Gordon, who will captain the Armed Forces, was due to be based at Camp Bastion for four months but has been given special dispensation to return a month early to prepare for the World Cup.
The make-up of the Festival of Worlds Cup is:
Students - Australia, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.
Women - Australia, England, France, New Zealand, Russia, Samoa and Tonga.
Wheelchair - Australia, England, France, Scotland and Wales.
Police - Australia, Fiji, Great Britain and New Zealand.
Armed Forces - Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, Russia and Serbia.