Australia's player of the year, Jarryd Hayne, believes that the danger of missing a major final for the first time since 1954 will galvanise him and his fellow countrymen this weekend.
The Parramatta winger says that Australia will be as good as on the plane home if they lose to England at Wigan on Saturday, following their draw with New Zealand. "We lose that game and we're out of the tournament, pretty much," Hayne said. "If we play like we did against New Zealand, we'll get our pants pulled down."
Australia are considering moving Hayne to the left wing to try to get him more of the ball, after a night on starvation rations against the Kiwis at The Stoop.
England, however, have rejected any idea of a positional switch that would move Gareth Ellis, the only Englishman in the NRL, to centre in a bid to counter Australia's outstanding back-line. Ellis confirmed yesterday that he was expecting to play a full 80 minutes in the second-row.
New Zealand are still waiting to find out whether their half-back or hooker, Thomas Leuluai, will be fit to face France in Toulouse on Saturday night after suffering a calf strain at The Stoop.
Salford have appointed their long-serving captain and hooker, Malcolm Alker, as assistant to their head coach, Shaun McRae. Alker will also continue to play for Salford, who have signed the Castleford prop, Ryan Boyle, on a two-year deal.
Hull have appointed the Australian, Dennis Moore, as assistant to their coach, Richard Agar. Moore, who has been working as assistant coach at the NRL club, Manly, has agreed a one-year contract.
The former Great Britain winger, Des Drummond, is back in rugby league after being appointed to Rochdale Hornets' staff, under their new head coach, John Stankevich.