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Widdop still a chance for World Cup

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 9:26 PM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Adam Jones

England coach Steve McNamara is still hopeful Gareth Widdop will be available for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, despite the Storm star suffering a gruesome dislocated hip late last month.

Widdop was stretchered from the field in agony during Melbourne's 18-12 loss to Gold Coast in round 15, and Storm coach Craig Bellamy later ruled his five-eighth out for the rest of the year.

But McNamara, who is in Australia to brief his NRL-based players on England's World Cup preparations, is still hoping Widdop will represent the Lions at the end-of-season tournament.

"Look, he's very positive. He's not ruled out just yet," McNamara told the SportsFan Clubhouse.

"It's a terrible injury that he's suffered, but he's very positive.

"The specialist's report has suggested it might not be as bad and have caused as much damage as first feared, so fingers crossed. There's a chance he is [available]."

Despite potentially losing Widdop from his squad, McNamara remains confident England will be able to match it with the Kangaroos and Kiwis at the World Cup.

The coach is also quite content with the number of English players making the dash to Australia to join the NRL, even if it means a weakened domestic competition back home.

"From a purely selfish, England head coach's point of view, it's great," McNamara said.

"The best way to improve is to play against the best every week. And to actually get in the teams you have to practice your best all week as well, and that's what improves you and makes you fulfil your potential as a player.

"But from an overall rugby league perspective, we don't want rugby league to be like AFL, a sport that is only played in Australia and no other country.

"The international dynamics of rugby league need to stay strong, so we do need to be careful."

With the likes of James Graham, Jack Reed, Chris Heighington and the Burgess brothers plying their trade in the NRL, McNamara is assured of a busy visit to Australia's eastern shores.

Luckily the coach doesn't mind racking up frequent flyer points to keep his players abreast of his plans for world domination, and says he is thrilled with how England's preparations are coming along.

"We're in a good position. I'm really comfortable with our program," he said.

"I'm really comfortable with the work we've done with our players back at home. I'm really comfortable with the quality that we've got out here.

"I think when you put those two groups together we've got a pretty potent team. But we all know the task. To win a World Cup isn't meant to be easy."Playing Australia and New Zealand in particular won't be easy. It's going to be difficult."



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