Steve McNamara has outlined his determination for England to make a strong start when the national team open their Autumn International Series campaign with a match against Wales at Wrexham on Saturday (2.30pm).
England will head for the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground having experienced some high quality preparations in both the UK and South Africa and McNamara expects his players to take full advantage.
“All our preparation throughout this year – the Elite Training Squad camps and the recent trip to South Africa included - has been designed to hit the ground running in the autumn internationals,” said McNamara.
“Everything we do involves having one eye on the Rugby League World Cup in 2013. You can’t afford to start slowly in any tournament, especially the World Cup, because you could find yourself out of it before you even start.
“That’s why it is imperative that we start strongly. There has been a little adversity with injury and illness but the quality of our preparation should ensure that disruptions are minimised.”
England are boosted by the availability of Michael McIlorum, the Wigan Warriors hooker whose absence from England Knights’ victory over Ireland last weekend allowed him to complete his period of suspension, but are missing Sam Tomkins (knee), Stefan Ratchford (illness) and Rangi Chase (groin).
Chase will miss the full series but Tomkins and Ratchford are expected to be available for England’s home fixture against France at MS3 Craven Park in Hull on Saturday November 3.
The absence of 2012 Man of Steel Tomkins provides an opportunity for 2012 Super League Young Player of the Year Zak Hardaker to make his full international debut at full-back.
McNamara said: “Zak’s form with Leeds Rhinos has been really good all season and particularly at the back end of the year.
"It's great for Zak and it's great for us that we've got another player capable of playing very strong in that position.
"It puts some pressure back on Sam Tomkins, which is what we need across the park for all our players.
"Sam is an exceptional talent but he needs that pressure of competition as much as anybody.”
Tickets for the 2012 Autumn International Series fixtures, Wales v England at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, on Saturday October 27 cost from £15 (£7.50 concessions) and can be purchased by calling 01978 294404 or by visiting firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets for England v France, at MS3 Craven Park on Saturday November 3 and the final of the 2012 Autumn International Series at Salford City Stadium on Sunday November 11 cost just £12 for adults and £6 concessions and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk