Heading up Combined Nations All Stars has been ‘extremely challenging’, says Ellery Hanley

Ben Olawumi

Ellery Hanley has described his role as the Combined Nations All Stars head coach for this Saturday’s game against England as ‘extremely challenging’, detailing the tests which he has faced in compiling a side.

Hanley, 61, took over from Tim Sheens. Last year, Australian Sheens masterminded a 26-24 win over the Wall of White.

This time around, Hanley has endured a selection headache. Initially naming a 30-man squad for the training camp, there have been withdrawals seemingly ever since.

He has now submitted his 20-man squad for Saturday’s game, Wakefield prop David Fifita added at the eleventh hour.

“It has been extremely challenging. Our game is a real occupation hazard of car crashes every six to 12 seconds, so It’s been difficult from that point of view,” said Hanley.

“Coming into the last round [of Super League] this weekend just gone, that was also extremely difficult because you sit worrying about the injuries. You’ve also got the suspensions which made everything that bit more difficult.

“Trying to pull players in at the last minute, they’d already booked to go away with it being a free weekend. To be honest, I actually didn’t think it was going to be as hard as this.

“Coaching for me is very simple in understanding the frameworks of what you want to work through in a game for 80 minutes, but for this game, you’ve got the logistics of actually pulling players in to contend with as well.”

Hanley Still Happy

Hanley himself represented England and Great Britain over the course of an illustrious career before moving into coaching with St Helens & Doncaster. He is of Jamaican descent.

The former Wigan man has also previously headed up Great Britain on the international front, adding: “I actually spoke to every one of those 30 players when I first made the selections to make sure that they wanted to play.

“I couldn’t even begin to explain to you in words how delighted they were at me picking up the phone and ringing them to select them. Obviously, I’ve had to taper it down, and it’s been difficult with all the conditions I’ve already mentioned.

“I’m still very happy with the players that I’ve picked at this moment in time because I know they’ve got great desire to play. I’m positive about the game in the sense that all the players in my squad now, I’m completely happy with.”

Saturday’s game will take place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington (5:45pm).

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