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Widdop in spotlight as axed Chase released

England coach Steve McNamara on Friday heaped praise on five-eighth Gareth Widdop for bouncing back from a horrific injury as it emerged the player he replaced for the Rugby League World Cup semi-final against New Zealand had gone home.
Widdop in spotlight as axed Chase released
by AAP

By Luke Phillips

LONDON, Nov 22, AFP - England coach Steve McNamara on Friday heaped praise on five-eighth Gareth Widdop for bouncing back from a horrific injury as it emerged the player he replaced for the Rugby League World Cup semi-final against New Zealand had gone home.

New Zealand-born Rangi Chase was axed for the last-four clash at Wembley Stadium, paying the price for some largely ineffectual half-back showings alongside captain Kevin Sinfield.

The 27-year-old Chase, who plays in the Super League for Salford and previously played against England for the New Zealand Maori, did not take his axing well, according to McNamara.

"He's asked for a little bit of time at home, has Rangi," the coach said. "He wasn't selected this week, he's asked for some time at home, which I was happy to grant so he's back at home with his family.

"We'll let him have the weekend at home, and then when we get back into camp next week, all things being well, he'll be with us."

McNamara added: "Each time you pick an international team, it's tough.

"It's based on what I think is right for the team this week going into this game, the way we want to play this game, and based a little bit on performance certainly (from) last week," when Chase failed to fire in England's 34-6 quarter-final victory over France.

"There's no issue whatsoever for me with him (Chase). He wasn't picked, people deal with that in different ways.

"Rangi's been really good for this team for a long period of time but as a coach I have to make decisions based on what I believe is right every single week for the team and I've done that this week and I'm really pleased with the team we're putting out against New Zealand."

McNamara was gushing in his praise of Widdop, hailing the 24-year-old's "energy and attitude to being fit" after sustaining a dislocated hip playing for Melbourne Storm in the NRL in June.

"I was at that game on the Gold Coast when he did it, I saw the state he was in during the game. I probably put a line through his name after speaking to medical staff immediately after that game," McNamara said, adding that he then went to visit Widdop in hospital.

"I was always going to give him every opportunity that he could to make himself available. It was important he had some sort of game time before the World Cup started and he did that.

"He only played three games when he came back at the back end of the season. He's trained extremely hard ... and put himself now in a really good position to start this game and push on to stake a place in the final, all being well."




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