Ex-Huddersfield Giants Gene and McNamara go head to head in Four Nations
ONE of rugby league’s closest friendships is about to face the ultimate test.
England boss Steve McNamara and Papua New Guinea counterpart Stanley Gene have been good mates since their days together at the Giants.
Both men moved to Huddersfield in 2001 – the year they were relegated from Super League – but stayed loyal to the cause and were at the heart of the Giants’ promotion-winning campaign of 2002.
They remained teammates before McNamara retired at the end of the 2003 campaign, and their three good years of sharing a car on a daily basis from their homes on Humberside to Huddersfield came to an end.
The pair were reunited at Bradford Bulls in 2006 when Gene moved from the Galpharm and played under assistant coach McNamara.
But even though they went their separate ways at the end of that campaign, the friendship remained as strong as ever.
And that’s the case today, even though the pair are this week determined to plot each other’s downfall in tomorrow’s Four Nations clash between the two countries in Auckland.
With a wooden spoon so desperate to be avoided, the friendship between McNamara and Gene is the last thing on their minds.
But the England chief knows their relationship will survive what promises to be 80 minutes of full-blooded international rugby league, even if it does end up in controversy.
"Stanley has been a very good friend of mine for many years now, and that won’t change after tomorrow, whatever happens," said McNamara.
"We both thoroughly enjoyed our time at Huddersfield and often speak fondly about it together.
"But that obviously counts for absolutely nothing this weekend.