England coach Shaun Wane has expressed his hope that Super League clubs will ‘understand the big picture’ when it comes to releasing players for the mid-season international with the Combined Nations All Stars: and admits he doesn’t understand Adam Pearson’s suggestion that he may refuse to let his overseas stars take part.
Wane’s first game as England coach will take place on Friday June 25, when England face a select side comprising the best non-English talent in Super League. However, Pearson said that if England’s NRL players are not available, he may not commit to releasing the likes of Mahe Fonua and Josh Reynolds for the game himself.
“From a personal stance, the chosen weekend in June is our first home game with a crowd in 17 months,” he recently said. “To come home to the KCOM Stadium after so long and then lose five or six players is just not acceptable. At this moment I cannot commit to allowing my exile players to play.”
However, when asked about Pearson’s comments on Tuesday morning, Wane admitted he was surprised to see what the Hull owner had said – given he had held numerous conversations with both Pearson and Hull coach Brett Hodgson, and had no indication the Black and Whites may refuse to release their high-profile players for the game.
“I don’t understand Adam, because he’s known about this for 12 months,” Wane said. “He’s agreed it and to say he doesn’t understand, to be honest, I don’t understand myself, because he’s known about it for 12 months. I’ve spoke to him and Brett numerous times and asked if anyone had a problem or a question, and nobody said a word, then they say that in the paper. That’s not how I do things; I don’t understand.”
Wane also reiterated that he hopes clubs will understand the importance of what he and England are trying to achieve this year, and the knock-on effect it may have for the sport as a whole. He said: “I’m hoping clubs will understand the big picture: what a successful World Cup campaign will do for Super League and the game is unbelievable, to have all three teams doing well is important.”
Wane suggested that he will also do everything he can to lighten the load on Super League players in such a busy year for the game, saying that if any player is guaranteed for his World Cup squad by the time the mid-season internationals come around, he will leave them out.
“This is an international weekend and I wanted a standalone fixture so it didn’t put pressure on Super League teams but we didn’t get that, simple as,” he said. “But the clubs have been, as a whole, really behind us and helping every way they can and I’ll do everything I can to not put clubs under pressure. Teams like Saints and Warrington are going to have a lot of players in, so if James Roby is killing the competition and he’s a dead-set certainty for the World Cup, I’ll have a look at another hooker. If I can help St Helens or any other club out, I will do that.”