England have found some time to unwind among the serious work of preparing for the Women’s World Cup

As local surfers catch the early-morning waves rolling in from the Coral Sea, dog-walkers stroll along Mudjimba beach wrapped in winter coats and kangaroos roam free on the local nature reserve, you could forgive any of them for being unaware that the European champions are just a short hop away. My taxi driver, though, is amongst those in the know.

“What do you do for a living, mate? You write about football? Oh, you won’t believe this, mate, the England soccer team are staying just down the road!”

It was certainly thoughtful of him to provide the tip-off. Thankfully, Telegraph Sport was already aware of the Lionesses’ nine-day-long warm-up camp on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast ahead of the Women’s World Cup.

Until travelling to Brisbane, the venue for their opening fixture against Haiti next Saturday, the England squad and staff are staying at the Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort, a peaceful site that they share with dozens of kangaroos in the suburb of Twin Waters, barely 100 yards from the sea and also adjacent to a small lake.

Their main priority is training as they acclimatise to Australia, but they were afforded some free time on Tuesday afternoon and made the most of it, with a large group – including Sarina Wiegman – going on a whale-watching tour. Others opted for a trip to the nearby Australia Zoo, feeding kangaroos and wallabies.

For the more serious matter of their training sessions, they are using the Sunshine Coast Stadium, typically a rugby league ground, which will be used to stage football matches at the 2032 Olympics. For now, it has a grass bank around three sides and a small stand on the other. When the Lionesses opened up access to local fans to come to watch one of their training sessions, 3,000 people turned up. Well done, that taxi driver, for helping spread the word.

The relaxing atmosphere of the hotel seems to be rubbing off on many of the group, typified by Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly arriving at that training session dancing to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. In the daytime, the winter sun is relatively warm but nobody seemed to have told Chelsea’s Lauren James, who arrived in a thick puffer jacket as if she was at Cobham on a cold December morning. Her skills with the ball were soon entertaining the on-looking crowd, though, hundreds of whom stayed behind for autographs and selfies with the players.

Over 1,000 people turned up to watch England’s #Lionesses hold an open training session at the Sunshine Coast Stadium today. The entire England squad trained, including Millie Bright, but Katie Robinson only did a lighter session because she has a very minor ankle injury #fifawwc pic.twitter.com/Fu84utrgAo

— Tom Garry (@TomJGarry) July 9, 2023

On the pitch itself, Wiegman and her staff have put the squad through their paces in a fairly consistent routine. The 75-minute session starts with the squad informally doing some keep-ups before a group huddle and a short speech from the head coach.

They enter a short, group passing drill, and then embark on a relatively slow jog around the outside of the pitch before doing dynamic stretches to finish warming up. Usually, some sprint training then takes place as the team race each other down the length of the pitch, before breaking off into a larger group passing drill where specific players either follow the ball or stay as the pivot while others move around them, with one-touch passing.

Some sessions have concluded with small-sided games or a larger-sided game where the central midfielder – typically Keira Walsh – immediately changes teams when the possession changes hands, highlighting the importance of her role in the midfield. The more specific, tactical plans are kept away from the watching eyes of the media.

Chloe Kelly leads a light jog during training at the Sunshine Coast Stadium - Behind the scenes with the Lionesses at the World Cup: Whale watching, kangaroos and board games

Chloe Kelly leads a gentle run during training at the Sunshine Coast Stadium Credit: PA

Kiera Walsh during an open England training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium, Queensland - Behind the scenes with the Lionesses at the World Cup: Whale watching, kangaroos and board games

Midfielder Kiera Walsh has extra work during training matches as she switches sides with possession Credit: PA

Back at the hotel, there is a classroom where clips of matches are examined as well as relaxation areas for the players. In their downtime, many of the players are said to be rushing to play Partners, a four-person strategy board game that rose to popularity in Denmark but has also become a regular source of entertainment for the Manchester United and Barcelona squads, and has now been brought into the Lionesses camp.

“The United girls have brought that game in but funnily enough me and Kiera [Walsh] play the exact same game in Barcelona but it’s got a different name: Brandi Dog,” right-back Lucy Bronze said.

“They had it on the plane, they were mad at someone the other day because it was out and someone cleared it away thinking they were helping and they were like, ‘No you messed up our game, we were coming back to play it later!’”

England purposefully landed in Australia earlier than some of their rivals to give themselves time to recover from any jet lag before the tournament starts, not that it appears to have been much of an issue for Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy, who managed to get 11 hours’ sleep on her first night after arriving in Queensland.

The squad and staff wore special glasses on their flight to try to minimise the jet-lag issues and Bronze said: “I think they’ve helped a few people. It’s been an interesting process, it’s helped the majority adapt quicker, which means we can train faster, and obviously everything like that, the small gains you can make, adds to the preparations for the tournament.”

How ready England truly are, fans will find out when they face Haiti on July 22 in Group D. For now, Queensland seems to have made a good impression on the Lionesses – and vice versa.