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Mac keen to move on from Zac

England coach Steve McNamara is determined to draw a line under the Zak Hardaker affair but Leeds boss Brian McDermott has expressed his concern over his player's withdrawal from the World Cup squad.
Mac keen to move on from Zac
by AAP

By Ian Laybourn

LONDON, Nov 5 AAP - England coach Steve McNamara is determined to draw a line under the Zak Hardaker affair but Leeds boss Brian McDermott has expressed his concern over his player's withdrawal from the World Cup squad.

The England team management ended days of speculation over Hardaker on Monday evening when they confirmed he had pulled out of the squad, citing personal reasons.

Hardaker, 22, is expected to shed some light on the circumstances behind his decision after meeting with his club on Wednesday and McDermott is looking for an explanation.

In an interview with the BBC, McDermott said: "It's clearly concerning what's happened and, until we find out the nature of what's happened and what has happened, I'm not sure what to say.

"Zak was in the England squad and now he's not in the England squad and that in itself is a disappointment, but other than that I'm a bit wary of saying too much until we've talked to him and our own club has made some inquiries."

The withdrawal of Hardaker comes a fortnight after the axing of Gareth Hock for a series of disciplinary breaches while James Graham was left out of the England side for the opening World Cup match against Australia without explanation.

At his weekly media briefing on Tuesday, McNamara maintained his steadfast refusal to comment on rumours of breaches of the team's alcohol ban and played down the effects of the off-field distractions.

"I'm not frustrated at all," McNamara said.

"I'm really happy with the squad that we've got. When you coach or manage, you have all sorts of different situations to deal with."

McNamara drafted Huddersfield's Brett Ferres in to plug the gap caused by the loss of Hock before the tournament kicked off, but says he did not explore the chances of obtaining a replacement for Hardaker.

"I didn't want to. We've got a very good squad, we're covered in most positions."

McNamara expects to be able to pick from a full-strength 23-man squad for Saturday's final Group A match against Fiji at Hull's KC Stadium, a fixture that will determine the runners-up spot.

Utility forward Sam Burgess will return from a one-match ban while younger brother George Burgess and fellow front rower James are expected to recover from knee injuries sustained in the 42-0 win over Irelast last Saturday.

"This week is going to be another difficult week in terms of selection," McNamara said.

"I've said all along I certainly wouldn't make decisions based on keeping everything fluffy and nice. If a couple of changes need making, I'll make them. If I feel someone potentially needs a week off, like I did last week, I'll do that as well.

"It's based on getting us to the end position in the best possible shape ready to perform and hopefully win the competition."


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