Continuity key for McNamara
England coach Steve McNamara is warning not to expect too many surprises when he unveils his latest elite training squad on Tuesday.
Wakefield winger Ben Cockayne could find his way into McNamara's initial plans for the end-of-season World Cup after making an impressive start to the season but the squad is likely to contain a host of familiar names.
Continuity has been the buzzword of McNamara's two-year tenure so far and, with the opening World Cup match against Australia now just a little over seven months away, he will not change tack now.
He used only 18 players from his 24-man squad throughout the 2011 Four Nations Series and last season called on 21 players for the three autumn internationals.
"The vast majority of the squad will have continuity about its make-up," McNamara said.
"We will reward those players that have been part of the programme over the past couple of years.
"They continue to be the most consistent performers in the Super League each week, which is testament to their qualities as rugby league players.
"It is important for the development of the national team that the core of the squad is used to playing with each other and are firmly ingrained in the overall England programme.
"Our philosophy has always been about creating a 'two-team' mentality within the national set-up, where we get buy-in from every individual.
"This is now our biggest strength and that enables us to create a winning mentality, where the players believe they will test the best teams in the world."
McNamara was asked to submit an initial 40-man squad to World Cup organisers by the end of last week but it was not made public and he will name either 30 or 32 players in his revised elite training squad.
That will not include Australia-based England internationals like James Graham, Sam Burgess, Jack Reed and Gareth Widdop, all of whom are set to be named in McNamara's final squad which will be revealed after October's Grand Final.
The England-based squad will meet up at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire over the weekend of March 16 and there will be another three get-togethers before the full squad head out to South Africa for a high-altitude training camp in Potchefstroom in early October.
England will start their 2013 campaign with the International Origin match against the Exiles at Warrington on Friday, June 14 and the Rugby Football League confirmed today that they will play France in a warm-up game before they get their World Cup campaign under way against the Kangaroos on Saturday, October 26 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.