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ENGLAND women’s head coach Craig Richards is drawing on the expertise of men’s boss Shaun Wane in his preparations for the 2021 World Cup.
England will play group fixtures against Papua New Guinea and Brazil at Headingley and against Canada at Anfield in the women’s tournament which will be run alongside the men’s and wheelchair events for the first time.
“Wane’s a great coach,” Richards told a virtual press conference. “We have a regular catch-up and he’s already changed one or two things.
“He’s impacted on me personally and on the programme and I’m sure at some stage we’ll get him to a session and get some real in-depth feedback.”
England have not played since the tour of Papua New Guinea in November 2019 and the 2020 Women’s Super League was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Richards’s squad resumed training last Saturday within Covid protocols ahead of a projected start to the league by the middle of April and the coach is hoping to play at least twice as a team before the start of the World Cup in November.
“We are hopeful we will have a mid-season Test match,” he said. “We don’t know who that will be against but it’s imperative that we don’t go two years without actually playing as England against an opposition.
“We’ll have an Origin series so at least we know the girls will have a very intense hit-out and we are considering doing a possibles v probables.
“The Kiwi Ferns and Jillaroos both played in 2020 and I would imagine they will be playing games again this year so we will be behind the eight-ball a little bit but that adds to the challenge for me.”
Richards says the 2021 World Cup represents an opportunity to raise the profile of the women’s game, which is guaranteed to make a breakthrough this year.
Women will be playing for prize money for the first time and participation fees are equal across all three tournaments.
“It’s huge,” Richards said. “For Super League women to get to the next level, we have got to do well in the World Cup, the pressure is there.
“There’s a big responsibility on us in terms of how we do because it will reflect on us as a national sport.”
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