Written by John Davidson
Tim Sheens says the Combined Nations All Stars will play with attacking flair and adventure, and pose England plenty of questions, when they meet on June 25.
The Sheens-coached Combined Nations team will face Shaun Wane’s England at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in a 2021 World Cup warm-up match.
The Australian is out to give England the toughest challenge possible and says he will take the shackles off his players.
“It will be a good game, it will be a good intensity,” he said.
“I’m not going to restrict them, we’re going to play with a bit more flair, as I normally coach that way anyway.
“Hopefully people will see a really good game of football and it will test England, because England will need the Test because they just don’t have that quality to draw on like Australia has with State of Origin.
“So for Shaun it’s a great chance to get his guys tested and to get some combinations combined as he thinks about the World Cup at the end of the year.”
There is agreement between Wane and Sheens that both coaches will not pick more than six players from any one Super League club.
Jackson Hastings has been made captain of the Combined Nations All Stars after missing out on selection for England.
🗣️ "It shows how far I've come as a person to have the trust to lead the team around."
🤝 @JackoHastings is proud to be the Combined Nations All-Stars captain.
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) June 13, 2021
Sheens will only have two training sessions with his players before the match but is unconcerned about the lack of preparation time.
“There’s a number of reasons for them to play well, so it won’t take me long to get them ready in a week,” he said.
“They’re naturally talented, you don’t have to coach them as such you just manage them, get them sorted with some basic stuff and in a rep team they generally come together with their quality with each individual.
“You can still feed into them some stuff on set pieces. We’ve got to come up with a basic language [for the team] to remember.
“They’ll be a play or two we design to try and take England on to the strength of our team. Once we pick the team we’ll look at what are our strengths and weaknesses somewhat, even though there’s not a lot of weaknesses in a rep side.
“And you play to your strengths and hopefully England’s weaknesses. But it for there to help Shaun get a good game. The history of the game is a bit mixed.
“England have won series and so have the Exiles in days gone by. In the 2013 World Cup England prepared with that Exiles series then, and I think they won that one in 2013.
I’m looking forward to putting up a strong side against Shaun and I’m pretty sure we’ll be fired up enough to win. For us it’s a big game.”