England coach to have final say on mid-season international

England Performance Director Kevin Sinfield says the final decision on a mid-season international will be made by the coach, whoever that might be.

The lack of a mid-season international in 2019 has been highlighted as a possible reason for Great Britain’s dismal performances on tour, and there had been talk of a mid-season test between England and Samoa in Australia this year.

But with the two sides now drawn against each other in the group stages of the 2021 World Cup, and a possible change of head coach in the offing, that may not now be a logical option.

Speaking at the World Cup draw, Sinfield said: “It’s important for the coach, whoever that may be, to decide who a mid-season test is against and if there is a mid-season test at all.”

Sinfield revealed that he has now handed over his element of the review ordered by the RFL following the Great Britain tour.

England are currently without a coach, with Wayne Bennett’s contract having expired at the end of 2019, though he remains in line to continue.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer recently revealed a number of new candidates had thrown their hat in the ring for the job, while ex-Wigan coach Shaun Wane has publicly revealed his desire to take charge ahead of this year’s Ashes series.

Sinfield added: “Some people doubt where we are at because of the Great Britain tour, but I feel we have a robust plan to take us forward.

“I believe we can (win the World Cup). Some people may not believe that because of the Great Britain series, but I don’t think that shows a true reflection of where we’re at.”

England will kick-off the 2021 World Cup against Samoa on Saturday October 23 at St James’ Park Newcastle, before further group games against France and Greece.

The women’s team avoided New Zealand in the draw and will go up against Papua New Guinea, Canada and Brazil, while the wheelchair side face Australia, Spain and Norway.

Sinfield added: “All the (men’s) groups look really tough.

“France have caused us some problems in past, even though we have played them at last two World Cups and beat them.

“It’s remarkable that Greece have qualified. I have no doubt there’ll be some guys who represent them who have represented other countries as well. They’re a potential banana skin for everyone in that group.

“As we saw with Italy two World Cups ago, we need to be really careful.

“It’s really exciting for our country to face nations like Greece, Brazil, Norway, Spain, who are all new sides to face, which helps us move forward and entice more people to pick rugby balls up.”

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