The glitz which surrounded the Budweiser League championships at Wembley four weeks ago will be remembered as little more than a mirage five days from now, unless England have clambered over the hurdle of the European Championship qualifying round beginning at Birmingham's NEC today, writes Duncan Hooper.
If England finish in the top three against Wales, Luxembourg, Denmark, Georgia and Poland, they will climb into the continent's top 32, guaranteeing a place in the semi-final round beginning in November.
The coach, Lazlo Nemeth, said: "We have to win now, I know that. But I hope I have also brought together a squad including a nucleus of players to take England forwards."
This look to the future saw Nemeth make what he describes as "one of the most difficult decisions of my career" on Monday, when he cut Manchester's 6ft 9in veteran international Trevor Gordon from the squad.
ENGLAND SQUAD (European Championship qualifying round, NEC, Birmingham): K Brown (London Leopards), R Baker (Leopards), S Bucknall (Thames Valley Tigers), J Amaechi (Penn State), S Dunkley (Saratov Moscow), R Huggins (Sheffield Sharks), P Scantlebury (Thames Valley), M Harvey (Doncaster Panthers), N Austin (Thames Valley), K Samuels (Birmingham Bullets), I Whyte (London Towers), P Vourliotis (Sheffield).Reuse content