Combined Nations All Stars boss Ellery Hanley compared his return to coaching like riding a bike, saying it felt natural to him to be back in the hot seat.
The 61-year-old rugby league legend made his highly-anticipated return to head coaching at the weekend. His Combined Nations All Stars side fell to an 18-4 defeat to Shaun Wane’s England side in Warrington.
Prior to getting the All Stars gig, Hanley’s last job as a head coach in rugby league came in 2008 with Doncaster.
“The coaching has been no problem,” Hanley said when asked by Love Rugby League about his return to the hot seat after the game.
“I think once you’ve coached it is almost like riding a bike. Once you’ve rode a bike you understand the balance. To me, it was natural. Because I’ve watched nearly every Super League game there was no difference coming back this week.
“The players are so professional as well which makes your job so much easier. The playbook was given out to the players on Tuesday when they came into camp and let me tell you it is one of the best camps I’ve ever been in.
“I like everyone to feel comfortable so they brought their music along to every session. It was no distraction, I have so much flexibility understanding the cultures of the players coming into the side. Nobody likes losing and it is disappointing for me that we lost but the reality is, is that the better side won.
“I feel very grateful for the opportunity and I feel honoured and privileged that the headquarters asked me to do the job.”
How does Ellery Hanley rate England’s chances at the World Cup?
Wane handed England debuts to Huddersfield’s Jake Wardle and St Helens trio Matty Lees, Jack Welsby and Joe Batchelor in their win over the All Stars.
England have been drawn in a group alongside Samoa, France and Greece at this year’s World Cup.
But how does Hanley think they will get on in the tournament on home soil?
The Great Britain legend said: “They’ve got a number of players to come into the side, the NRL players.
“The competition is going to be hard and it should be, there should be no easy slots for anyone. Even for the most obvious players who are in the side it shouldn’t be easy.
“I think there are some areas they have to work on and that is from a losing point of view. There are some areas where they are vulnerable.
Hanley on Wane: I love him to pieces
“We had three or four chances where we could have posted tries but we weren’t clinical enough. We didn’t deserve to win and I won’t edge away from that at all. You’ve got to be aware and not paper over the cracks and I’m sure Shaun won’t do that. I love him to pieces and he’s great. I think he’s got the players on side in terms of what they have to do to win a World Cup.
“It is going to be a wonderful World Cup to have all the sides in but I think the big three are obviously Australia, New Zealand and England – not in that order – but they are going to be the three teams for me that are going to be competing for the World Cup.
“I think the other sides may give the three sides a run for their money and there might be a couple of surprise results. But generally speaking, that’s the format of what it is going to end up being in the final.”