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McNamara buoyed by Widdop injury news

England coach Steve McNamara was on Tuesday digesting contrasting injury news from Australia as he began to finalise his squad for the Rugby League World Cup later this year.
McNamara buoyed by Widdop injury news
by AAP

By Ian Laybourn

LONDON, Sept 10 PA - England coach Steve McNamara was on Tuesday digesting contrasting injury news from Australia as he began to finalise his squad for the Rugby League World Cup later this year.

McNamara suffered a body blow with the loss of Brisbane Broncos centre Jack Reed, who will undergo surgery after dislocating his shoulder at the weekend, but he is buoyed by the comeback of Melbourne Storm stand-off Gareth Widdop.

The 24-year-old Keighley-born Reed, who made his England debut in the 2011 Four Nations Series, was certain to be included in McNamara's 24-man squad and his absence could pave the way for Huddersfield's Leroy Cudjoe or Leeds' Zak Hardaker to line up alongside Kallum Watkins (Leeds).

"Jack's really upset about it," McNamara said. "He's been desperate to be available for the World Cup.

"It's very disappointing for us but this is why we put programmes in place so that, if something like this does happen, we have other candidates to jump in and fill that spot.

"Obviously Leroy and Kallum Watkins have played the majority of the time for us in the last year and Zak filled in for us this year and we've got quite a few other strong candidates as well."

Halifax-born Widdop was on Tuesday named on an extended bench for Melbourne's NRL qualifying final clash against South Sydney on Friday after making a successful return from a dislocated hip at the weekend.

Widdop will step back into the Melbourne team if former Wigan stand-off Brett Finch fails to shake off a shoulder injury and, if he is not needed, is likely to have another run with the club's feeder team, Brisbane Easts, in the Queensland Cup.

"He came through fine," McNamara said. "He played 65 minutes and it was about 27 or 29 degrees up in Brisbane.

"He's done tremendously well. It's been a massive effort to get back and hopefully we'll see him this week."

The return from lengthy injury lay-offs by St Helens hooker James Roby and Leeds duo Danny McGuire and Jamie Jones-Buchanan over the last 10 days has provided McNamara with more cheer.

There are still doubts over Warrington scrum-half Richie Myler and Wigan loose forward Sean O'Loughlin and, such is the latter's importance to the team, McNamara hinted that he may give the Warriors captain as long as it takes to recover from his achilles tear.

McNamara will finalise his squad before the October 5 grand final and put them through their paces at a training camp in South Africa before a warm-up game against Italy on October 19, a week before the opening World Cup match against Australia.

The coach said the three members of his elite training squad whose domestic season came to an end at the weekend - Rangi Chase (Castleford), Gareth Hock (Widnes) and Ben Cockayne (Wakefield) - will report for duty on Friday to start a conditioning and medical programme and will be joined by other players when their clubs drop out of the play-offs.




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