Steve McNamara paid his own way to Australia three years ago to see what was going on there that kept them ahead of the game. Now he will have an extra pair of eyes and ears Down Under to help him in his new role as England coach.
McNamara was confirmed in the job yesterday until after the 2013 World Cup, but for this year at least he will have the expertise of Brian Smith at his disposal. The vastly experienced Australian, who signed McNamara as a junior at Hull and again as a senior player for Bradford, has been enlisted as performance adviser for this year's Four Nations at McNamara's request.
"I have known Steve for most of his rugby league career and been an influence throughout most of his adult life and was delighted when he asked if I would help," Smith said. "Working with England is not something I ever saw myself doing, but I feel honoured to be involved."
McNamara was making no rash promises yesterday about the 2013 tournament, nor this autumn's Four Nations. "We have made progress and we need to maintain that progress playing overseas," he said. As assistant to Smith's younger brother, Tony, for the past three years, McNamara says he has seen "things that have been done right and things that need to be done differently."
McNamara will continue with the Bradford Bulls, where he has been coach since 2006, until the end of the domestic season. "Sometimes you have to compromise to get the right man," the RFL's chief executive, Nigel Wood said.
Time will tell whether the former Great Britain loose forward is indeed the right man. His first duty will be to prepare a team to play France at Leigh on 12 June. By then he will have two assistant coaches in place, with Leeds' junior coach, Francis Cummins, strongly fancied to be one of them.