Shaun Wane revealed he will continue leading England until at least the end of next year after watching his side steamroller Papua New Guinea to reach the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup.
Wane, who was initially appointed on a two-year deal in February 2020, has signed a second extension, confirming: “It’s another year after the World Cup – I’m very happy, I love the job and I love being with these players every day.”
The 58-year-old’s mood was improved by an emphatic 46-6 victory in which the majority of the damage was done in an enthralling early period that Wane described as the best half-hour of his coaching career.
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England completed 13 straight sets and led 38-0 at the interval, inspired by a stellar display from wing Tommy Makinson, who finished the match with a record five tries and five conversions for a total personal haul of 30 points.
Yet Wane believes the best is yet to come from his side as they prepare to face either Tonga or Samoa in the semi-final at the Emirates Stadium next Saturday.
“I do genuinely believe that we can get better,” said Wane. “Our start was faultless and that was probably the best 30 minutes I’ve had (in my career).
“But we can play better for longer, and we will need to do that because we will be coming up against a new level of opponent next week. We need to get better, and we will absolutely need to get more intense.”
Wane has never been one for singling out individual stars but he made an exception for Makinson who was irrepressible on the left wing as he stepped out of the shadow of his wing rival Dom Young.
Wane, who endured plenty of agony from a Makinson-inspired St Helens during his previous role as Wigan coach, said: “I’ve coached against him for many years and he’s been a pain in the backside for us as a club.
“He is an outstanding individual and more importantly he is a really top man. Now I’ve got the chance to coach him as an international coach, and he’s an absolute dream.”
Makinson himself sought to deflect the inevitable attention away from his 30-point haul, insisting it was just a part of a magnificent team performance that maintained their steely focus on claiming a maiden England World Cup win in a fortnight’s time.
“It is a dream to score five tries – it is a day I will remember and I will hang the shirt up, but I’m sure there will be more special days,” said Makinson.
“To score five tries is good, but to be involved in this group and go ahead with what we want to achieve is much bigger. I just love every day I spend with these lads – we’ve got each other’s backs and we have a laugh, but when it gets down to business we do it.
“We want to do something special, but talk is cheap and we have to go out and do it. To get the points and the tries is great but there’s much bigger things at stake. That’s why we’re so close, because we want to create the kind of history that hasn’t been done for a long time.”
England captain Sam Tomkins also hailed Makinson’s contribution and expressed the increasing conviction that his side can overcome the southern hemisphere giants to clinch a World Cup win for England for the first time.
“It was a really huge win and we can focus now on getting to London for the semi-final,” said Tomkins. “I think we can do it – we’ve got a very tight group and whichever team we come up against, we will give it our best.
“Tommy has been doing it for a long time, winning trophies every year for Saints. He will be humbled as you would expect, but I’m sure when he looks back he will be very proud of it.”