McNamara focusing on England’s Kiwi challenge

England coach Steve McNamara is focusing on this year’s test series with New Zealand, rather than his personal future.

Speaking to members of the media in Manchester via a link from Sydney, where he is based, McNamara’s attention is fully on securing victory over the Kiwis in the three-test series.

“I’m really comfortable with where I’m at,” he said.

“I’m in no rush to decide which path my career goes down next.

“It’s exciting times on both fronts. With England, there is a lot of work in front of us. We’ve made some progression and improvement has been close in the last couple of years. I’m really relaxed about the contract situation, I always have been.

“This year is about winning this international series. We’re all excited by the prospect of playing the Four Nations champions three times.

“The progression to winning the next World Cup would naturally involve trying to beat New Zealand in this one anyway so all our focus is on this series and the World Cup after that will take care of itself.”

England will play a warm-up for the New Zealand series against France. McNamara is pleaed to see the return of the trans-Channel fixture, after going into last year’s Four Nations ‘cold’.

“Last year was tough, because our season finished a week after the NRL, it gave us very little preparation going into that first game against Samoa,” he explained.

“Playing France is very important for a number of reasons, to prepare us for the Test series against New Zealand but the northern hemisphere needs a strong France.”

McNamara is also encouraged by the way that Super League is turning out this year, as he believes a stronger domestic competition is crucial for international success.

“We’ve done a lot of things with the England programme to enhance our chances of being successful but I always felt the biggest percentage gain could be through our domestic competition, in making it the strongest it could be and challenging the individual players every single week,” hhe explained.

“It’s probably one of the biggest steps that’s been made to improve our game and I hope they don’t judge it over one season.

“They need to give it a fair crack at this to make our game strong.”

The coach also confirmed that the England squad would be meeting for a training camp at some point this year, to help reinforce the bonds built in the last few tournaments.

“We’ll certainly be getting together at some point,” he said.

“It’s been very successful for us but what form that takes is still part of our discussions.

“The clubs have been very forthcoming over the last few years but that may change slightly with the new structure.

“I think it will increase our chances of international success so, if there is a slight drop-off in the number of days we have with the players, it will be more than offset by the fact that they will be playing in a stronger competition this year.”

McNamara also revealed that the England Knights could have some more games this year, after a fallow period for the England development side.

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