Young guns can fly against Kiwis
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.
Saturday 12 November 2011
Games do not come much bigger for the national side than today's tussle with New Zealand at Hull.
Win it and the season will end with a week of optimism – even if that optimism turns out to be mislaid when they face Australia in the Four Nations final next weekend. Lose it and it will be the same old story – and England will still be ranked third in the world.
There have been good signs in this tournament, not least in the defeat by Australia at Wembley last week. Individual mistakes – from players and officials – cost them the game but it was refreshing to see an England side so eager to take on their opposite numbers with adventurous attacking rugby.
One of the main reasons for that was the confidence growing between the side's back three. Ryan Hall took most of the plaudits with two immaculately taken tries on the right wing, but paid tribute to Sam Tomkins at full-back and Tom Briscoe on the opposite flank.
"We do work together quite a lot in training, because we have to work with each other in a match," said Hall, the Leeds wingman who, at 23, is the oldest of the trio.
Tomkins is 22 and Briscoe, who plays at his home ground tonight, still only 21. "I think it's good that we're all young guys who have more or less come through together," said Hall.
Hall has swapped wings from his usual position at Leeds, but unlike some wingers has no strong preference. What was impressive about him at Wembley was the sheer power with which he took his chances. Whoever the Kiwis line up against him, there is no danger of him being outmuscled.
Tomkins was often brilliant against the Kangaroos, whilst Briscoe had more of a mixed afternoon. Tonight, he has the benefit not only of his home crowd but also of his club centre, Kirk Yeaman, alongside him.
"It has to be an advantage," he said. "We've played together so much that we know each other's games inside out."
The signs are that England's four injured forwards – Jamie Peacock, James Graham, Gareth Ellis and Chris Heighington – will all be fit. Their coach, Steve McNamara, is likely to resist any temptation to tinker elsewhere in the team and England could field an unchanged team for an unprecedented fourth game in a row. The Kiwis' Stephen Kearney is waiting for his prop, Fuifui Moimoi, to prove his fitness after an ankle injury at Wembley.
Much has been made of the Hull factor that could work in England's favour, but Kearney has local connections as well. He played for the Kiwis in the farewell match at The Boulevard in 2004 and played the following season for Hull. "My 10 months taught me how passionate Hull people are and how they love the game," he said. "I know exactly what to expect."
Lee Briers is retiring from international rugby after Wales' game against Australia tomorrow. The Aussies are giving Test debuts to Beau Scott, Corey Parker and Daly Cherry-Evans in the match at Wrexham, which, it was announced yesterday, will be home to a new North Wales Crusaders side in Championship 1 next season.
England (probable): Tomkins; Hall, Reed, Yeaman, Briscoe; Sinfield, Chase; Graham, Roby, Peacock, Ellis, Westwood, Heighington. Substitutes: Widdop, Morley, Jones-Buchanan, Wilkin.
New Zealand (probable): Locke; Beale, Brown, Mannering, Nightingale; Marshall, Foran; Matulino, Leuluai, Packer, Blair, Manu, Smith. Substitutes: Luke, Wharea-Hargreaves, Moimoi, Glenn.
Referee: M Cecchin (Australia).
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
Why Manchester City were willing to fork out $500m on stake in MLS
Manchester City coach in waiting Manuel Pellegrini: Inside the mind of anti-Mancini
Champions League final: Biggest German invasion since the fifth century as Bayern Munich face Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: 50 things you need to know about the Champions League final
Champions League Final: Can Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund stop the Bayern Munich machine?
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.