McNamara praises first England camp

England Rugby League head coach Steve McNamara has praised the success of his first Elite Training Squad of 2011 after the England side spent the past two days in camp at RAF Cranwell.

The 32 players selected by McNamara to attend the session came together for a mixture of light on-field activity and a series of classroom based activities aimed at establishing a strong team ethos surrounding the England identity and despite St Helens star Jon Wilkin picking up an injury during the camp, McNamara feels there have been plenty of positives to come out of the camp.

“The session has been great,” said McNamara. “We’re getting the message across regarding what it is we want to achieve, how we’re going to achieve it, what we expect from the players and what they should expect from themselves. It’s a two-way process and it is satisfying that the players are buying into it. We want clarity so that the players all understand the direction that the England team is heading in. We want to build some honesty, loyalty and trust towards the England brand.

“I’m very happy with the project we’ve got and it’s fantastic to be involved in a programme that is trying to achieve International success. I’ve have a clear direction as to which way I want the programme to move and when you see the players together and you see how receptive they are, then it gives you great confidence.”

McNamara’s selected 32 comprised of players from nine current Engage Super League clubs but he feels the clash of club cultures is something that will soon be removed from the England set-up.

“It’s difficult with players coming from different squads because last week they were shooting bullets at each other in Super League and they’ll go back to shooting at each other again this weekend,” said McNamara.

“But for England to succeed, all the good traits that the players pick up at their clubs need to be thrown into the mix for England. There are things we need to continue doing, there are some things we need to stop doing and some thing we need to start doing.

“The players have all got some great ideas about what needs to be done and this session has been a great opportunity for them. These players don’t get the chance to get together a lot and they need to build some trust and some unity and get to know each other better and that in turn gives us a better chance to perform to our potential at the end of the season.”

This weekend it will be the turn of the England Knights to go into camp and McNamara is keen to replicate the positives established at this week’s ETS camp with the Knights squad.

“The England Knights will be at RAF Cranwell this weekend with the aim of developing the right environment similarly to what was achieved with the Elite Training Squad,” added McNamara.

“The players selected for the Knights squad all have an ambition of being part of the ETS. Everyone can fight for a place and so can the players who have missed out this time around. We have a system that’s aimed at putting pressure on the selected players to remain in this group.

“These players all want to stay in this group and make the England squad, but there are a whole host of players who are breathing down their necks looking for an England shirt come Test time.”

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