Sean Long hoping to help Luke Gale regain England spot

Leeds’ new assistant coach Sean Long will do his utmost to help Luke Gale regain the England number seven shirt for the World Cup.

Gale, the Rhinos captain, has not played for England since the 2017 World Cup final due to injury but is in coach Shaun Wane’s elite squad and, after an encouraging first season at Headingley, is fancied to regain his spot.

The 32-year-old former Castleford favourite is recovering from surgery to repair a pectoral muscle he tore in the first session of pre-season training, but Long says the decision to put back the start of Super League by a fortnight to March 25 could mean he may not miss a game.

“They say it’s a three-month injury but Galey is a really good pro and a quick healer,” Long said.

“With it being his pec, he can do some running and with it being put back a couple of weeks, I think he’ll be back for the start of the season, which is a bonus for us.”

Long has had Gale at his side during training since sustaining the injury and is confident he can add the improvements to his game, including the introduction of some off-the-cuff rugby.

“Galey’s game management is bang on, his talk is good and he gets the boys around the field,” Long said. “He’s like the quarterback in the NFL.

“I’m trying to teach him about picking off numbers, not preempting his play and playing off a little bit of chaos at times, some ad-lib footy.

“He’s really good at structured stuff but, going forward, you need to do both, you need to think outside the box.

“I think he’s got all the attributes to play for England in the World Cup.”

The opening game on October 23 is against Samoa, for whom Long has been assistant to coach Matt Parish for the last two World Cups. Now back in the 13-man code, the former St Helens half-back expects that link to continue.

“I keep in touch with Matt, who congratulated me on going back to league, and I’m sure I’ll be involved in some capacity at the end of the season,” he said.

“I know all the lads and it’s a good experience for me.”

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