Five things: McNamara, bye bye boyos and Cumbria for SL

Neil Barraclough

One – Keep smiling, Steve

It’s probably fair to say Steve McNamara isn’t enjoying most of the off-field stuff around the World Cup.

Considering he’d just watched his side win 42-0 on Saturday, there wasn’t much bonhomie in his post-match press conference.

McNamara is making his own choices about how best to respond to questions and everyone will make their own choices about they react to him.

But his accusation against the BBC, when legitimately asked about the Zak Hardaker rumours prior to kick-off, was nothing short of remarkable. 

Initially McNamara said: “There’s nothing to report at all.”

Which would have been fine, but he then added: “You’re just making things up and looking for things that are trying to disrupt the camp.”

To accuse the BBC of inventing stories to deliberately undermine England’s World Cup campaign appears, from this distance at least, a tad over the top and maybe just a little hypersensitive.

Common sense and a bit of perspective prevailed from Jamie Peacock. He said: “Maybe England rugby league aren’t used to this kind of attention, but I think it’s a good thing for the game.

“We’ve got a World Cup and everyone’s interested in what’s going on in the England camp.”


Two – Life in the left edge

Back to the on-field action, and one of the big plusses for England was the Brett Ferres/Leroy Cudjoe combination.

In 2010 Cudjoe was one of a number of youngsters taken on the Four Nations tour Down Under in Steve McNamara’s first major competition. England never stood a chance that year, but how important was experience like that in preparing Cudjoe for this World Cup?

His Huddersfield team-mate Ferres has been another revelation, despite only making the squad after Gareth Hock hit snooze once too often.

“It’s funny how those things work out sometimes,” said McNamara. “Brett was very close to initial selection, came along to South Africa and was great in terms of how he prepared given that at stage he wasn’t included. It goes to show that good things come to those who do the right things.”


Three – Home is where the heart is

If this World Cup leaves any legacy, it will hopefully be the recognition that there is an appetite for fully funded internationals and regular fixtures for those teams outside the Four Nations.

Ireland boss Mark Aston said: “You just want the same. What you want is a consistent level of support, and I don’t think any of the home nations (apart from England) get the right sort of support.

“We went into camp two weeks ago and we’ve had 10 or 12 sessions together. It makes it very tough.

“It’s been thrown together and it’s been tough on the guys… but it doesn’t just happen, it takes time.”

“But we’ve started something and that’s the most important thing.”


Four – Bye bye, boyos

What Wales would have given for a Lee Briers to spark some creativity against USA at Wrexham.

Instead they became the first team to crash out of the World Cup, having suffered back-to-back defeats against Italy and Terry Matterson’s men.

It’s hard to think of a more disappointing Welsh performance in recent years.

That 2000 semi-final against Australia seems a long, long time ago now.


Five – Cumbrian dreams

Another packed crowd at Workington for Scotland v Italy, and Whitehaven coach Dave Woods brought up the eternal debate about a Cumbrian Super League team at half time on Premier Sports.

Woods said: “There’s no doubt about it, Cumbria needs a Super League team. If there was a Super League franchise, the people of Cumbria would come out.

They’re here and they do want good class rugby league.

“If Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow were serious about a Cumbria Super League franchise, some heads need to get together. Can you imagine this every other week? There’s a great atmosphere.”

Something to think about…



Any thoughts on the weekend’s action? Leave them in the comments box.

Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough