ough and is pressing ahead with preparations for that game, along with trying to organise a further warm-up match ahead of the national team’s World Cup opener against Samoa on October 23.

Shaun Wane remains hopeful that England will play at least two Test matches before this autumn’s World Cup: including a game against what could be a star-studded Exiles team.

With uncertainty continuing to cloud the rugby league season as Covid-19 cases continue to surge across the country, there is still no guarantees that the World Cup will take place at all, let alone whether Wane will get the warm-up games he is hoping for.

The prospect of the Super League season being delayed by a further fortnight to late-March has intensified those fears, but he insisted on Thursday that in his eyes, the plans haven’t changed.

“Where we’re at is it’s still on,” Wane said at his first media briefing of the year. “I know there has been talk about the season being put back, but that’s doesn’t alter that weekend.”

The prospect of an Exiles game this year would be mouthwatering, with the likes of Greg Inglis, Bevan French and Lachlan Coote all available to play – as would the likes of Jackson Hastings and Blake Austin, if Wane overlooked them for his own national selections.

Wane continued: “As far as I’m concerned, the Exiles game is still on and I’ve not been told any different. From my point of view, that game is very important to me and my preparation for the World Cup.”

Wane also admitted he wants another game, with Fiji lined up as possible opponents before England take on Samoa at St James’ Park to kick off the 2021 tournament.

“When I was in club-land I liked playing a game 10 days before the start of the Super League season and I’m trying to the same here, so we get a game 10 days before we play Samoa,” he said. “There’s a chance with Fiji, but nothing has been set in stone yet.”

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