There are “a number of spots” still up for grabs in England’s World Cup squad with Shaun Wane set to pick players he trusts to compete in a World Cup final.
England will play their first match of the year next weekend when they face an All Stars side at Warrington, having been frustrated by a lack of time to bring a squad together in World Cup year.
But assistant coach Paul Wellens has revealed that the squad is unlikely to be finalised until the very last minute, allowing players the chance to stake their claims at the business end of the Super League season.
“There are a number of spots still up for grabs,” Wellens reveals on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.
“Some players have stronger claims than others at the moment. Even come playoff time there will still be places up for grabs.
“When we are looking at England players and judging who should make the squad, we are judging on how would they perform in a World Cup final at Old Trafford at the end of the year.
“Players should have that at the back of their minds. When Shaun is watching a game he wants to see players showing that standard.”
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Paul Wellens confident for English connection at World Cup
Wellens admits that planning for the end-of-year tournament has been difficult. The squad are yet to have a full get-together, but he believes that everything will be in place by autumn.
He said: “We had a Test match against France at the back end of last year and I was struck when the players came into camp by the feeling around the group, representing England and excitement about doing that on home soil.
“We haven’t had the contact with them that we would have liked from an international point of view. But I’m confident that when the World Cup comes around there will be a connection straight away.
“There is a passion through the whole group about playing for your country. How many opportunities do you get to represent your country on home soil in a World Cup? You grasp it with both hands and give everything you’ve got.”
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