John Terry will play a surprising role in England’s plans for this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup, after the head coach, Shaun Wane, revealed that the former Chelsea and England captain will work with the national team at some point during 2021.
Wane, who has made no secret of his interest in working closely with other sports in the past, will include sporting figures such as Aston Villa assistant coach Terry and the golfer Lee Westwood in the international setup throughout the course of the year to try to inspire his players to the title.
“I’ve been having lots of Zoom calls with people like John,” Wane said. “He’s going to come up to training at some point. He’s really keen, he’s really smart and he loves our way of thinking in rugby league. He’s got a real understanding about rugby league and he loves the game.
“I ask him regular questions and vice versa. We learn from each other. He’s a very proud Englishman, as is Lee, who is another one who will be getting involved with us. I love speaking to people like that, about how they train, what they do and what their standards are. I want my players to have an open mind about hearing from people like that.”
Wane said his preparations for the World Cup remain unchanged, despite the fact the Super League season is likely to be moved back to late-March due to rising Covid-19 cases. He still hopes for a mid-season game against an Exiles team, made up of the best overseas players currently playing in the British game.
“It’s still on, nothing changes,” he said. “The season is being put back but that doesn’t alter that game. I’ve not been told any different so from my point of view, the game is on – and it’s very important for me and the plans for the World Cup.” The tournament is scheduled to begin on 23 October.
Wane, who said players such as Catalans’ Sam Tomkins, St Helens’ Jonny Lomax and Wigan’s John Bateman are in his thinking to replace Sean O’Loughlin as captain following his retirement, also insisted he felt rugby league was doing everything right in regards to concussion following the retirement of the Leeds forward Stevie Ward last week at the age of 27 due to persistent neurological symptoms.
“The improvements we’ve made are unbelievable,” he said. “We’re still improving, but we’re going in the right direction. We’ve just brought our own specialist player welfare manager into the England setup because looking after the players and their welfare is imperative.”