Wedding on hold but Luke is best man for GB
If England are to thrive in New Zealand and Australia over the next five weeks, they need to show the sort of commitment epitomised by Luke Robinson right from the start.
The Huddersfield scrum-half flew out with the squad for the Four Nations on Friday night, despite the small matter of having to postpone his wedding. His wife-to-be dropped him off at Manchester Airport, so relations cannot have broken down completely as a result.
"Once the decision was made we were fine," said Robinson, who was also having to field a series of messages telling him how well his stag trip to Las Vegas was going without him. His single-mindedness is a clue to the role he could play in the tournament. It has taken injuries to Kyle Eastmond and Danny McGuire – plus Richie Myler's loss of form – to get him on the plane but, having got that far, he looks suspiciously like the first-choice scrum-half, which could be the making of him.
Robinson's courage and enthusiasm have never been in doubt, but he is now a coolerdecision-maker on the field, which could be vital.
He was not the only one with other commitments and decisions to make on Friday. The England captain, Adrian Morley, was later than the rest at the airport, having been a pall-bearer at the funeral of his old team-mate Terry Newton. Stuart Fielden was not at the airport at all, but will follow in a couple of days, after his wife has given birth to their first child. He too could be an important figure in the 24-strong party. In the international wilderness for three years, he has dug deep to unearth his old form and has the air of a man making up for lost time.
He will arrive in Auckland in time to be involved in the warm-up game against the New Zealand Maori next Saturday, which could be as tough a game as against the full Kiwi side in Wellington a week later, when the tournament proper starts. That is the game England really must win if they are to have a realistic chance of makingthe final in Brisbane next month.
Despite the enforced absence of the man who would have captained the side, Jamie Peacock, there is not too much to be worried about in the forwards. Players such as Morley, James Graham and two battle-hardened Poms from the NRL, Gareth Ellis and Sam Burgess, have already more than proved their capabilities at this level.
The test for Steve McNamara lies in finding the right blend in the backs. Does he play Sam Tomkins at stand-off or in his Wigan position of full-back? Where does a third Australian-based Englishman, Gareth Widdop, fit in? These questions will need to be answered, but McNamara got the answers he wanted when he asked Robinson and Fielden if they were prepared to commit to the cause.
Latest in Sport
Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt: Examining the Impact of 'Taker's WWE WrestleMania return
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Paul Scholes: Jose Mourinho's attempt to influence football's decision-makers is not working. In fact, it may have backfired
Piers Morgan 'hurt' after Arsenal legend Bob Wilson questions his support for the Gunners and labels him a 'pompous individual'
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit