ENGLAND already have an injury concern ahead of the Rugby League World Cup – coach Shaun Wane!
But he is adamant he will be good to go after a knee operation to repair an old playing knock, just as adamant as he is about surprise picks Chris Hill and Kai Pearce-Paul.
The Huddersfield prop, who has not featured under him, and the Bromley-raised Wigan youngster are the talking points of a 24-man party he believes is good enough to take on the world.
St Helens’ Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival are out with bicep and knee problems respectively after ‘emotional’ calls.
But he is 100 per cent convinced 34-year-old Hill and 21-year-old Pearce-Paul are the right choices, as he wants his players to be ‘on’ the moment they walk out of their hotel rooms for breakfast!
“Chris was always in the running,” said Wane, who hopes to get rid of his crutches shortly. “I could see that when he’s played, he’s played really, really well.
“It’s about his metres after contact, how many carries he takes in, his work rate is immense. If he does that for England, we’re in good shape.
“Much of what makes Chris stand out are things fans don’t recognise as much while Kai made it because of how he’s looked after himself and how he acquits himself in games.
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“He’s an offload threat, which we don’t have many of, so that’s another attacking threat. He gives us something a bit different.
“Jonny’s call was down to Saints’ medical staff and himself, on where he thinks he’s at. I trust him and believe what he’s saying.
“He was very emotional. Mark’s knee isn’t right and was the most emotional conversation I had with anyone. He was heartbroken.
“It could’ve been Jonny’s last World Cup and he can’t play in it, it’s really, really sad.”
As SunSport said yesterday, Salford duo Andy Ackers and Marc Sneyd are in, along with clubmate Kallum Watkins, after a sensational Super League campaign.
They will be joined by six NRL-based players – Herbie Farnworth, Tom Burgess, Luke Thompson, Elliott Whitehead, Dom Young and Australia-born Victor Radley, who qualifies through Sheffield-born father Nigel.
Injuries also robbed him of Alex Walmsley, Liam Farrell and Harry Newman, while John Bateman will miss the tournament opener against Samoa through suspension.
Skippered by Sam Tomkins, they go into their Manchester-based camp on Tuesday and Wane vowed they will have to be top class from when they get up.
He added: “It’ll be very intense, with a lot of information. I expect the best of behaviour, players to switch on in training and be on time.
“When it’s time to relax, I’ll relax with them but when we’re on, we’re on. That starts from the moment they come down for breakfast.
“I want the players to be obsessed about winning.”