England coach welcomes Gloucester and Hemel
England coach Steve McNamara has offered ‘Good luck’ messages to Hemel Stags and University of Gloucestershire All Golds as professional Rugby League’s newest clubs prepare to make their debuts in the Northern Rail Cup this weekend.
Gloucester and Hemel go head-to-head at The Prince of Wales Stadium, Cheltenham, on Sunday in a fixture that sees both clubs make their professional bows and McNamara has welcomed their presence in the sport during one of the most important years in its history.
“It’s great to see Hemel and Gloucestershire competing in professional Rugby League for the first time and I wish both clubs the very best from this weekend,” said McNamara,
“It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved in Rugby League and I’m sure that these new clubs will put down strong foundations in a World Cup year.
“From the systems they have in place and the people they have working at those clubs, it looks promising for the future of Hemel, Gloucester and the sport’s third new club, Oxford.
“Although it’s unlikely that we will have players from any of the new clubs featuring in the World Cup at the end of the season, I look forward to the day when Gloucester, Hemel and Oxford all have players in contention for England selection.”
Having already produced England Knights players Dan Sarginson and Kieran Dixon, Hemel Stags have a proven reputation amongst the Rugby League community, and with a Rugby League World Cup 2013 fixture being staged in near-by Bristol, Gloucestershire All Golds will also be looking towards the international scene this year.
“With a Rugby League World Cup game being staged in Bristol, and the new clubs bringing Rugby League into areas where the sport hasn’t previously been associated at professional level, the potential for both clubs to develop new people, players, fans and volunteers is huge,” said McNamara.
“There’s a balance to strike with continuing development in our core areas and taking the sport to new regions, but when there is a plan in place and that plan is executed correctly it can pay off, as Catalan Dragons have proved.
“It would be great to see Hemel start to challenge the London clubs in the coming years and Gloucestershire develop into a strong side in their area. Both clubs have a large area to draw talent from and we just need to bring that potential together in an organised structure which will benefit England and the sport in the future.”