McNamara to stay on as England boss

Steve McNamara

Steve McNamara

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STEVE McNamara will continue as England coach next year after a shock decision by the RFL to hand him a new deal.

He was given a contract extension after convincing bosses he would be able to manage the national team on a part-time basis – while based 12,000 miles away in Sydney as assistant coach of the Roosters.

Fans’ hopes of seeing double-winner Shaun Wane in charge of the national team were crushed by last night’s announcement.

As reported in the Evening Post, Wane – and Leeds’ Brian McDermott – had been candidates to take over.

The RFL had started to search elsewhere when it was thought ex-Bradford boss McNamara was heading to Bath RU.

But his decision to take a coaching role in the NRL as Trent Robinson’s No.2 prompted a surprise U-turn by the RFL, who then offered him an extension without interviewing other contenders.

Their decision may alarm fans after England failed to reach the final of the recent World Cup.

McNamara also oversaw a string of embarrassing off-field incidents, which saw Gareth Hock and Zak Hardaker leave the squad and James Graham dropped without reason. England also lost a friendly against Italy, and McNamara’s halfback selections split opinion.

He has yet to beat the Kangaroos and, in total, has won just one of seven Tests against Australia or New Zealand – fewer than predecessors Tony Smith (4 of 9) and Brian Noble (5/12).

Yet RFL chief executive Nigel Wood saluted “the advances” made under McNamara. “We have made considerable progress internationally over the past four years and this arrangement provides stability and continuity.” added Wood.

The extension covers the Four Nations in 2014.

McNamara said he will be “maintaining regular contact” with Super League-based England players from Sydney next season.