England’s Dubai camp scrapped

Liam Farrell was one of the Wigan players expected to travel to Dubai
Liam Farrell was one of the Wigan players expected to travel to Dubai

Christmas came early for Shaun Wane today after a planned England pre-season camp in Dubai was scrapped.

The Warriors boss was resigned to losing five of his players for 10 days in early January.

But the RFL decided to pull the plug on the costly experiment after stinging criticism from some Super League coaches led by Saints boss Keiron Cunningham.

Wane had not criticised the plan, but there is little doubt the news is a boost as he prepares his players for 2017.

Given that Four Nations representatives John Bateman and Liam Farrell are not yet back in training with the club, it would have meant they only reported back for duty with less than four weeks to the start of the new season.

And more significantly, it gives George Williams more time to work on his new halfback partnership with the returning Thomas Leuluai.

Sean O’Loughlin and injured Sam Tomkins were also due to travel.

National coach Wayne Bennett had pushed hard for the training camp for Super League-based internationals as part of their preparations for the World Cup at the end of the year.
Bennett was due to fly out from Brisbane for five of the 10 days, with assistants Paul Anderson and Paul Sculthorpe leading the rest of the camp.

But a statement from the RFL said: “England Rugby League’s proposed trip to Dubai at the beginning of January to take part in a warm weather training camp has been cancelled.

“Following further discussions with Super League clubs, the England coaching staff and RFL have reflected on all views and concluded that the plans that are now in place would not deliver what was initially expected.

“The England team are now completely focused on the mid-season Test in May and their preparations for the World Cup in late 2017.”

The camp had come in for criticism from some quarters for hampering clubs’ preparations for the new season.

Other commentators had questioned the cost, as well as the logic of travelling to Dubai, a country where rugby league is illegal.