The Rugby League World Cup will finally get underway at the end of the year following a year’s postponement with anticipation high in the England camp.
Shaun Wane’s men overcame a stubborn Combined Nations All Stars team last weekend at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium with an 18-4 win.
But, everyone knows that come October, Wane’s men will have to improve given the level of quality now emanating in the southern hemisphere.
The likes of Australia and New Zealand have dominated past tournaments, but Tonga, Samoa and Fiji are pressing hard on their tails.
And, with England coming up against Samoa in their first group game at St James’ Park, former Sky Sports pundit Eddie Hemmings knows the England side need to be on their mettle.
“Samoa could a put a spoke in the wheel the first weekend of the World Cup if we are not careful,” Hemmings said on The Last Tackle podcast.
“They’ve got some real talent – they are playing the Pacific Nations this week and I looked at the team sheet and it frightened me to death.
“Samoa have got it on their radar that they want to do better than what Tonga did in 2017 when they reached the quarter-finals.”
Hemmings also revealed that former Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar, who left his post at Headingley earlier this season, has flown to Australia for that fixture.
“They have got Matt Parish and Richard Agar has flown to Sydney as part of the coaching team for Samoa – the ex-Leeds boss,” Hemmings continued.
“He knows more than anybody in that camp at Samoa what Super League and these English players are about.”
In terms of club rugby league, Agar was spotted in the crowd at the Canterbury Bulldogs’ game against Wests Tigers last weekend, according to the Daily Telegraph.
With those two clubs needing new head coaches, the rumour mill has since started up again about Agar potentially moving abroad.
The publication has revealed that the former Leeds boss has been catching up with NRL coaches and friends, with one of those Craig Fitzgibbon – head coach of the Cronulla Sharks.
Fitzgibbon actually wanted Agar to join his coaching staff at one point but a deal could not be struck.