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Hello and welcome to Tuesday's rugby league live news blog. The World Cup is over with Australia winning their third consecutive title, beating Samoa at Old Trafford. In the women's game, Australia are also champions, defeating New Zealand, whereas in the wheelchair game, England defeated France in a thriller to give the host nation something to shout about.
What's next for the international game? England's mid-season test against France has been scheduled for April with the European Championships to take place at the end of the year. That will likely feature the England Knights side with New Zealand and Samoa keen on a 2023 test series against England, and Australia on an Ashes match-up in 2024.
In Super League, Hull FC's two new Australian signings have an arrival date, whilst Tony Smith (not that one) has joined Leeds Rhinos. Stay with us for all the news and features throughout the day.
The Rugby League World Cup is over with Australia world champions once again and England wondering what might have been. Normal service has resumed.
Things were going so well. In fact, England were brilliant in the early stages, beating Samoa, France, Greece and Papua New Guinea before coming unstuck in the semi-final against the star studded Samoan side they put sixty points past in the opening match. It’s a funny old game.
Yet it shouldn’t have been such a surprise. After all, it was the result the bookies originally predicted and even if they had a hiccup to start with, the bookies are rarely wrong. Here, Rugby League Live looks at England’s campaign and how they need to build going into the next World Cup in France come 2025.
Salford Red Devils have been rocked by another injury blow with star fullback Ryan Brierley set to miss the start of the season. The fullback suffered a knee injury while on World Cup duty with Scotland and scans have shown a tear to his meniscus which will require surgery.
Brierley will have an operation next Tuesday after specialists confirmed the damage, with the layoff set to keep him out for over four months.
It's another big blow for Salford, who trained today with only 12 players due to injury and the delayed returns of players who are on the post-World Cup break. Brierley finished seventh in Super League for direct try contributions last year, ending the season with ten tries and 21 assists.
Hull FC back rower Jordan Lane has made an impression on new head coach Tony Smith. The 25-year-old returned to training after playing twice for England Knights in the Autumn.
"It was a brilliant experience and really good for him," Smith told Hull Live. "It was important that he got a break as he kept training throughout.
"He's had a nice break where he's been ticking over but he's able to come back fresh and ready to get back into it. Jordan was keen as mustard to get back training and get back into the swing of things again.
"He's a big personality within the team and he is well-liked as well. He will add to us."
Don't worry Hull FC fans, not your Tony Smith!
Leeds Rhinos have appointed former Great Britain international Tony Smith to their Academy setup, Rugby League Live understands. Smith, who played for England and Great Britain (as well as Hull FC) during his playing days, is understood to be joining the Headingley set-up to help replace Chev Walker after his promotion to first-team matters.
Walker has been promoted fresh off the back of guiding the club's academy side to Grand Final success in September. That left a vacancy within the club, which they advertised for last month.
Penrith Panthers have raised doubts about the 2023 World Club Challenge against St Helens taking place after claiming the fixture has yet to be “signed off”. Reports down under claim the Aussie champions have put in a demand for financial compensation from the NRL in order for the clash to go ahead next February.
It has been suggested that Penrith want at least $100,000 to play the match, as well as an additional $200,000 they feel they are owed for winning the 2022 Grand Final over the Parramatta Eels. Prize money had been cut in half following the Covid-19 pandemic, but the winnings are set to increase from 2023 onwards.
Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher said the club still have not agreed to the World Club Challenge just yet, despite it being pencilled into the calendar for Saturday, February 18.
England will play in next year's European Championships alongside seven other nations. The calendar for Shaun Wane's side is already coming together following the conclusion of this year's World Cup, with confirmation they will participate in the Euro A competition.
They have already confirmed a Test against France in April, and it now looks as though their end-of-season plans could involve a series of games against other European nations – but with the southrn hemisphere teams expressing an interest to tour again next year, it could yet be the Knights that participate in that event.
Euro A serves as a qualifying competition for the next World Cup in France in 2025 – something England do not need to worry about, as they are already qualified for that tournament.
But England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Serbia, Spain and Wales will compete in the eight-team competition called Euro A. Meanwhile, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway and Ukraine will meet in Euro B for the right to progress to the final qualifying tournament in 2024, with fixtures already announced.
International Rugby League chair Troy Grant has promised there will be a full, long-term calendar revealed to the world by the end of this year, which is expected to run through to the 2033 World Cup. But the ERL have wasted no time in confirming what is next for the game in this continent.
There will also be a wheelchair competition taking place alongside the men's events, too. “We’ve already announced the fixtures for the men’s Euro B and further timing confirmations for the other competitions are imminent," Andrew said.
Matt Parish has become the latest international coach to throw his team's hat in the ring as test opponents for England in the coming years. The Samoa boss, who guided his side to a World Cup Final at the expense of the host nation, is keen for his side to play in more meaningful games before the next World Cup in 2025.
The RFL is keen on hosting Tests in the Autumns of 2023 and 2024, with New Zealand understood to be on the radar. Coach Michael Maguire said before the tournament that he would be keen to bring the Kiwis to the UK next year.
Victorious Australian coach Mal Meninga also said he'd be keen for the Kangaroos to come over and now Parish has joined the calls for his team.
"It's definitely something we'd look forward to," Parish said. The more games we can get the better. I've been listening to Junior talk and this group is very special. It's humbling to see how many people they've touched around the world and inspired them."
Bradford Bulls winger Ryan Millar has left Bradford after being touted to other clubs. Rugby League Live can reveal the rapid wide man has attracted interest from rival clubs and been made available despite having another year to run on his deal.
The reasons behind his departure remain unclear but it's believed that Millar, who scored eight tries in 21 games for the Bulls last season, has already attracted the interest of other Championship clubs.
The 28-year-old joined the Bulls last season following a seven-season spell at Sheffield Eagles, where he made over 100 appearances under Mark Aston. He was part of the 1895 Cup-winning side at Wembley during his time at the club.
Catalans Dragons general manager Alex Chan admits the club remain on the hunt for new additions ahead of the new Super League season. The French club followed their maiden Grand Final appearance in 2021 by losing at the first stage of the play-offs last term.
It was a disappointing end to the season and Steve McNamara’s side are gearing up for the 2023 campaign with the disruption of the majority of their squad having been on World Cup duty. That means players will return to pre-season at staggered times but Chan insists the squad does not require major surgery – just a few additions in key positions.
“Steve’s needs are pretty limited because we’ve got a good squad to run into the competition with,” Chan told Rugby League Live. “If a player becomes available who we might be interested in then we will pursue it further, so while I’m not saying the squad is finished, we’ve got a very good base to start with.
“We’re currently at 25 players and still have a few quota spots available. Whether or not we’re going to use them, we’re not sure yet but we are still looking at players. There are some who are still available and there are others who we thought might be but are not.
“In the meantime, we will see how things pan out, look to manage our squad and bring everyone back together for pre-season after the World Cup.”
Hull FC's new Australian duo Tex Hoy and Jake Clifford will soon take the long-haul flight to the UK to start fresh chapters in Super League. The former Newcastle Knights pair are two parts of a new, exciting spine at the Black and Whites next season with both players eager to show fans what they can do.
Hull Live understands that both players will arrive in the country in the early part of next month, with Hoy landing in the UK ahead of the first weekend in December and Clifford a week after that. Hoy's signing was announced back in July with Clifford's coming in October, hence the slight delay on the latters visa process.
Clifford, who turns 25 at the turn of the year, is currently working hard with his rehab after a broken arm. He suffered the injury whilst playing for Newcastle towards the end of the NRL season and is well on his way to recovery.
Hoy, meanwhile, is fresh and raring to go. Turning 23-years-young at the start of this month, he will be the first of Hull's overseas signings to link up with his new team-mates. Clifford, who has a young family, will follow a week or so later.
Whilst the star NRL contingent are getting a heroes welcome back home, Sao is back to the grind with Hull FC, with nothing but good things to say about new head coach Tony Smith.
He is set for some well-earned rest first, though, spending time with his girls in his new house before a return to training.
"That's it for me,” Sao said. “I'm going to travel back up to Hull – it's paradise up there. I'll see the lads and see the dates Tony has got lined up for me. He's a good bloke and speaks well.
“Kylie Leuluai had a lot of good things to say about Tony and I've met some other players who had Tony as a coach. I just hear good things about Tony and the respect they have for him.”
And as for returning to the theatre of dreams one day, Sao said: “My next job is to put Hull in a good position to be here at Old Trafford. You just never know.”
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