England players score record 80 – but must still fight for selection
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 29 October 2012
The reward for England's record-breakers could be the axe for the next international against France.
Steve McNamara's men hammered Wales 80-12 at Wrexham on Saturday, the highest ever score in the fixture between the two countries and the second-widest margin after the 74 points in Bridgend three years ago.
But the England coach had barely finished congratulating his players before he was hinting at team changes at Hull KR next Saturday. "We weren't picture-perfect by any stretch and we'll look to improve against France," McNamara said.
Even the Wigan winger, Josh Charnley, the scorer of four tries at the Racecourse Ground on his international debut, is not exempt, with Hull's Tom Briscoe waiting in the wings to reclaim his shirt.
Throw in the other incumbent winger, Leeds' Ryan Hall – voted the world's best recently – and McNamara has a selection dilemma that could carry on into next autumn's World Cup. "There is not a lot to choose between all three blokes," he said. "It's virtually a toss of the coin to decide who plays."
Charnley, Super League's leading try-scorer with 31 this year, knows that he could be the man who misses out, despite the impressive new partnership he forged with the Leeds centre Kallum Watkins. "Kallum is awesome and he's got a massive future," said Charnley. "He created most of my chances and forging a partnership with him is something I'm looking forward to. I won't be taking it for granted with all the great competition we have in the squad, with Tom Briscoe and the other lads pushing hard."
The Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker was another success in Wrexham, but his place too could be in jeopardy if Sam Tomkins is fit to return. The reigning Man of Steel sat out the Wales match with a knee injury and Hardaker made his mark with two tries. England's only new injury was the hamstring tweak suffered by Sean O'Loughlin after the Wigan captain had set up two tries.
McNamara is likely to call up Ben Harrison of Warrington, Wigan's Liam Farrell and Luke Burgess of South Sydney for his pack at Craven Park.
The structure of the three-team tournament means that England now play France twice, the second time in the final at Salford on 11 November.
For Wales, the thrashing by England, coming after a creditable defeat in France, leaves them with a clear picture of how much they need to improve before playing Italy on the opening day of the World Cup in 12 months' time.
Their coach, Iestyn Harris, was critical of what he called their "lack of physicality" and is to embark on a programme of base-line testing aimed at lifting the fitness levels of his squad before the tournament next year.
The second-string England Knights won the Alitalia European Cup by beating Scotland 62-24 in Edinburgh.
Wales: Tries Roets, Fleming; Goals Seamark 2.
England: Tries Hall 2, Charnley 4, Hardaker 2, Watkins, Ellis, Burrow, Cudjoe 2, Jones-Buchanan; Goals Sinfield 12.
Wales Moss, Kear, Channing, Roets, D James, Jones, Seamark, J James, Budworth, Kopczak, Lloyd, B Evans, Flower.
England Hardaker, Charnley, Watkins, Cudjoe, Hall, Sinfield, Myler, Morley, McIlorum, Hill, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, O'Loughlin.
Referee T Albert (France).
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