Sheens open to Super League move
Australia coach Tim Sheens will be looking to get back into club football in 2014 and has not ruled out the prospect of working in Super League, but warns potential suitors to hold off until after the World Cup.
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The 62-year-old, free of club commitments following his departure from Wests Tigers at the end of last season, has taken the opportunity to make a whistle-stop trip to England and Ireland to check out facilities ahead of the Kangaroos' visit later this year.
"I've made it clear I will be looking to coach again, whether that's in Australia or England," Sheens said.
"I will have to see what might be available but all my focus at the moment is on preparing the national team. I don't want to take my eye off the ball."
Sheens was re-appointed as Australia coach for a fifth term in December to spearhead their bid to wrest the World Cup from New Zealand.
They get their campaign under way against England as part of a tournament-opening double-header at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 26 and meet Ireland at Limerick's Thomond Park a fortnight later, and Sheens has used his visit to look at both venues.
Organisers appear to have taken a gamble in taking a match to the rugby union stronghold of Limerick but Sheens has been encouraged by the reaction of the locals.
"The response has been excellent," he said. "Thomond Park is a first-class facility and you could tell dealing with people at the university and the hotel that there is a lot of interest in the game.
"They are expecting a good crowd. I think ticket sales are going quite well, as they are in Cardiff.
"Both rugby and league can do well simultaneously. A lot of people in Australia enjoy watching both games and I imagine it is the same in Ireland."
Sheens will return to Australia on Saturday, in time for the start of the 2013 NRL season, but admits he will be keeping a closer eye than usual on Super League this year.
England coach Steve McNamara will name his elite training squad on Tuesday but Sheens admits that much could change between now and October.
"It's still early in the year, it's all about getting through a long domestic season," he said. "I'll keeping a much closer eye on Super League this year to see who he's going to pick at half-back and five-eighth etc.
"I'll be interested to watch the Exiles game and, from my point of view, I've got State of Origin to get through.
"Then there's New Zealand and whether Sonny Bill Williams is going to be available or whether he plays for Samoa. There are a lot of things to be played out before the year is out."
The major talking point down under has been the decision this week of Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney to appoint Stephen Mannering as captain in place of Benji Marshall, Sheens' old Wests Tigers skipper.
Sheens admits the news caught him unawares but he expects the holders to be a strong force when they meet in the Anzac Test in April.
"It did surprise me but I'm not questioning what New Zealand are doing, I'm only hearing it second hand," he said.
"New Zealand are getting stronger. They've a very young group who are coming together. Kearney's got a bigger and stronger group to choose from nowadays."
Despite losing to the Kiwis in the 2008 final and also the Four Nations decider in 2010, the Kangaroos will be firm favourites to lift the trophy at Old Trafford on November 30, not that Sheens is taking any notice of the bookmakers.
"Favouritism is something the fans and the media talk about about but it's not something you'll ever hear the teams talk about," he said.
"I know we'll be rated highly but when we came over for the Four Nations in 2009 and 2011 people expected us to be playing New Zealand and we played England in the final."