Sport Rugby League Sheens refreshed and ready for World Cup

Sheens refreshed and ready for World Cup

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Aside from a break of just over a year after departing North Queensland in 2001, Sheens had been in charge of a club side since 1984 before being ousted at the Tigers at the end of last season.

But Sheens, who will celebrate his 63rd birthday four days after the October 26 tournament opener against England, has found benefits in being a full-time Test coach.

This includes picking the brains of his former assistant coach at the Tigers Peter Gentle, who coached Hull for the last two years and ex-South Sydney mentor Shaun McRae, who has been involved in the UK game in various capacities for much of the last 15 years.

“I’ve spoke to Pete, Shaun McRae who’s worked over there and David Waite who’s assisting in France and have done a lot of research into the English,” Sheens said.

“I don’t know until they pick their side just who’s going to play in that team and where.

“But I know a lot about individuals which I probably wouldn’t have the luxury of had I’d been involved in club football.

“I’ve been able to concentrate on it a lot more, which allows me to put more time in.

“In my five years in the job this will be as best prepared team as I’ve ever had.”

The focus has been very much on New Zealand since Sonny Bill Williams’s decision to play in the tournament.

But Sheens is very wary of the threat of England on home soil and believes Steve McNamara’s side is confident it can win its first World Cup since 1972 thanks to a strong NRL forwards contingent.

“With a full-time coach they’ve worked really hard to improve their national side,” he said.

“Although they may not have the depth of Australia and New Zealand, in ’09 and ’11 everyone tipped us to play New Zealand in the Four Nations final and they beat the Kiwis.

“Sam (Burgess) hasn’t played since 2010 and in ’09 he blew us away. Although we won in the end it wasn’t until we got away from them in the 60th minute.

“He made his name that day and now he’s got his brothers and Graham with him. They’ve spent money preparing and they’ll be confident playing at home.”

The standard will go up considerably. This series will be very hard to win and so it should be in a World Cup. – Tim Sheens

“You can’t discount England.”

In addition to the traditional powerhouses, Sheens expects a huge impact from nations such as Tonga and Samoa, as well as Fiji – who are also in the Kangaroos’ group.

All three sides will have a large NRL contingent in their starting line-ups.

“This will be the strongest contested World Cup,” he said.

“With the rules relaxed that you can still play State of Origin or for Australia or New Zealand next year it’s thrown out about 125 NRL players in the pool and we’re only using 24 of those.

“The standard will go up considerably. This series will be very hard to win and so it should be in a World Cup.”

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