Paul Anderson’s task at developing next generation of England stars

Josh McAllister
Paul Anderson

This year’s European Championships will provide Paul Anderson with the task of preparing England’s next generation of stars in the lead up to the 2025 World Cup in France.

Anderson confirmed that it will be his Knights side that will feature in autumn’s European Championships, with England seniors yet to confirm any fixtures beyond the mid-season international with France.

Eight nations are set to compete in the European Championships tournament later in October. England Knights were drawn in Group A alongside Scotland, Ireland and Serbia.

Anderson, 51, left his role as Warrington’s academy coach in January 2022 to become head of England talent and pathways. He has also held the position of head coach of England Knights since 2018.

Shaun Wane’s 24-man England squad for the 2021 World Cup included 10 players over the age of 30, with Anderson now set the task of preparing the next group of upcoming international talent. 

Anderson was present at the European Championships draw last week in Brighouse, with Group B including Wales, France, Italy and Spain.

Paul Anderson on European Championships

“International football at all levels is really good. It allows us to get our players to experience a tournament environment,” Anderson told Love Rugby League.

“Whatever combination it is, we’ve got to visit Scotland, Ireland and Serbia and probably one home game. It’s going to be a good experience and something we’ll look forward to.

“We’ve actually got plans in place but we can actually now confirm a lot of stuff. It feels like October/November is a long time away and Super League has just started, but before we know it, we’ll be there and naming squads and all that. 

“For us in regards to pathway and developing our England players, it’s another step we’re really excited about.

“Everything we do now is built towards this (European Championships). We’ve got a really good thing now with our pathway.

“We know in 2025 there’s going to be a World Cup. And even looking at our origin and England academies, there’s a Youth World Cup in 2025 as well, so we’re building for a World Cup in that area and then with the Knights building towards 2025 and potentially even the one after that.”

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England Knights developing next generation of exciting talent

Anderson is hoping that the Knights’ inclusion in this year’s biggest-ever European Championships will allow players a chance to experience a new environment and being on tour.

England Knights aren’t set to play before then, with the first round of fixtures scheduled for the weekend of October 21-22.

“We want to develop and give players the experience of touring, being in a World Cup so to speak,” Anderson said.

“We don’t want to get to a point where our head coach picks a player and it’s his first experience of being in that type of environment.

“The senior environment should be the next level up. But players should have that experience of being in that type of atmosphere. It’s going to be good. It’s going to be challenging and a bit of travel and that’s great and things you’ve got to deal with.

“Last year we went to France and then we came back and played Scotland just before the World Cup. It’s about the experience. It’s about exposing players to those different environments and different playing opportunities.

We went to Papua New Guinea in 2018, and now doing this as well is going to be really exciting.

“The average age of the squad we had last year was about 21. There’s a lot of young exciting players. And there was probably a lot who missed out due to injuries and things like that as well.

“If we can get everybody available who we believe are two, three or four years away from representing England, then it’s going to be exciting.”

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