England coach Steve McNamara has issued a stark warning to his NRL-based players as the sport marks 100 days to go to the start of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
McNamara recently spent three weeks in Australia catching up with some of the players who are likely to feature in his plans for the 14-nation tournament but has today made it clear that none of them are guaranteed selection.
â€œIâ€™d like to make it clear to everyone that there are no guarantees,â€ said McNamara. â€œIn fact the NRL boys are going to have to work even harder to make sure theyâ€™re in with a shout of featuring in the World Cup.
â€œThatâ€™s not because theyâ€™re 12,000 miles away, itâ€™s purely because so many players in Super League are playing at, or near the top of their game at the moment.
â€œThose players are also putting enormous pressure on the ETS (Elite Training Squad) members and thatâ€™s making my job even harder, which is just how I want it.
â€œI never had any expectation that weâ€™d go through a full season without senior players suffering injury and the summer has been tough on the likes of Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Danny McGuire, Jack Reed, Gareth Widdop and James Roby but whatâ€™s heartening is the number of players who are stepping up to the plate.
â€œItâ€™s also amazing how quickly the selection landscape can change: none of the five players Iâ€™ve just mentioned are out of the picture yet and Iâ€™m sure weâ€™ll see more players putting themselves in contention.
â€œA World Cup year was always going to be special and short of fewer injuries, I donâ€™t think England could be in a better position than we are just now.
â€œWith just 100 days left before we kick off the World Cup against Australia, there is still a lot of rugby to be played and Iâ€™m sure my job is going to get harder: I wouldnâ€™t have it any other way!â€
Steve McNamara will announce his 24-man squad for RLWC2013 in October ahead of the opening fixture against Australia at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday October 26.
Tickets are now on sale for RLWC2013, with 55 per cent of tickets priced Â£20 or less. To purchase tickets please visit www.rlwc2013.com or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.