Wenham outlines his vision for Team England and announces trail dates for EC2016

We caught up with Team England head coach Tom Wenham, to find out about the upcoming trails in June and what his vision is for the future of the men’s senior team.

How will the selection process work?
We will have a single, open trial after which we will select the final squad of 28 for the European Championships in 2016. This will include the 23 man playing squad and 5 alternates. We won’t finalise the breakdown of the 23 and the 5 until later in the process but we want to have the squad confirmed immediately after the trial. There’ll be no further try-outs or last minute additions. Depending on the number of players based overseas we may also invite members of the Development Squad* to train with the England Senior squad to ensure quality training sessions as well as supporting their progression as players. By having everyone try-out at the same time we can assess players against each other, be they based in NEMLA, SEMLA or overseas, giving everyone a fair and equal opportunity to show the assessors why they should make the team.

Why have you decided not to have a larger training squad and cut to the final team nearer the Championships?
I know that this has been done in the past and I understand the reasons. A larger squad gives the players longer to show the coaches what they can do and helps create intensity through competition for places. However, in my opinion, it negates one of our greatest strengths: the fact that all our players are geographically closer than our opponents. Selecting the squad earlier gives us a far greater chance to develop chemistry, team spirit and the right culture and environment. Previously (and understandably) prior to final selection the players were constantly looking over their own shoulders to see which of their ‘team-mates’ they’re competing with for their place. We want to avoid this so the players can simply focus on being the best team they can be. It also helps us logistically as well as players can plan ahead with time off work, fundraising efforts and so on.

How will the trial be structured?
The trial will run for around 6 hours both days with a progression from individual and unit drills to full-field scrimmage games. We’re also hoping to include some physical testing as well. The whole process will be extremely challenging and demanding. Those who have played in European or World Games with back to back games, day after day, will know that it takes its toll not only physically but mentally as well. We’ll be assessing all this with a view to selecting the best possible team, not necessarily the best individuals, and we’ll be looking for those who can perform consistently across both days.

Will you select overseas based players?
Ultimately that depends on who we see at the trial weekend but overseas based players will be welcome at the trial just like everyone else. I personally hope (and fully expect) that this will be an increasing challenge for England coaches to deal with in the future as more and more of our young players look to the US as an option for school and university.

Why Platt Lane as a venue?
English Lacrosse staff have been working extremely hard lately to find a ‘training base’ for the men’s national squads at all levels from Academy to Senior and I’m really pleased that we’ll be able to hold the majority of our training sessions at the Platt Lane facilities in Manchester, now run by Manchester Met University and previously home to Manchester City Academy. This gives us access to fantastic facilities including meeting rooms, indoor and outdoor astros and a strength and conditioning room. Having the trial here therefore gives us everything we need and will be the start of what should be an enormously beneficial partnership with MMU.

What about those players that cannot attend the trial?
I fully appreciate that the downside of a single trial with selection immediately afterwards is that some players will have justifiable reasons for not being able to attend. These players should contact me directly and we can look at each on a case by case basis. However I want to be open and transparent from the start and need to make clear that only in exceptional circumstances will we consider players who are unable to try-out.

What are you hoping to see at the trial?
Obviously we’ll be looking at lacrosse ability and those players who fit the style of play we want to implement in the lead up to the European Championships. We won’t be copying or emulating anyone else but looking at a style and culture that suits our players. More information will come out about this in due course as the long-term aim is to have this style filter down to all age-groups within the talent pathway. However, perhaps even more importantly, we’ll also be assessing attitude, character and mindset. We need the right kind of people, not just the right kind of players. I would also say that this is an elite trial to select a team to represent England at the European Championships and potentially beyond. Players should only attend if they are genuinely trying out for the team – this isn’t for those who just want to come along for the experience! The coaches reserve the right to withdraw anyone from the process who they feel is not up to the standard required.

The 2016 European Championships will take place in Gödöllő in Hungary. The 2016 championships are aiming to be the biggest European Championships to date when in takes place between 27/7 to the 6/8 2016, with an expected 26 nations due to compete.

If you would like to attend the trial please complete the registration form below and complete the £30 registration payment in the shop. Please note candidates will only be eligible to trial if both have been completed.

All England players will need to either hold a valid U.K. passport, be married to a U.K. national, have at least one U.K. parent or grandparent, or possess a Residence Permit allowing them to live in the United Kingdom  through  the  date  of  the  2016  European Championships.

If you wish to contact Coach Wenham about any part of the selection process please email: t.wenham@englishlacrosse.co.uk