Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 10:42 PM


England captain Sean O’Loughlin says his team has to perform immediately if they are to succeed in the Rugby League World Cup.

England faces Australia in Melbourne first up on the 27th of October in pool play. After reaching the semi-finals of the last two World Cups in 2008 and 2013 – falling to New Zealand on both occasions – the captain is looking for a better result this time.

“With a World Cup and the kind of opposition we’re coming up against, we’ve just got to be at our best as soon as we possibly can,” O’Loughlin said.

“We play Australia at the start; we want to win that game.

“There’s no kind of strategic stuff to be at our best for the final, it’s just every game counts. That’s possibly the hardest thing – to be at our best (straight away).”

Wigan great O’Loughlin is part of an experienced core of players who have watched England’s progression since 2008.

He played with Sam Burgess, James Graham and James Roby in the 2007 Great Britain side and is positive about the side’s evolution.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes, doing little bits all the way through the year, all aiming towards a World Cup.

“The squad has a good blend of young and experienced lads in there, and obviously the NRL boys coming into the squad as well.

“Luke Gale, he’s had a great year, and was the Man of Steel. He’s a key one. George Williams is a good kid and has had a fantastic year.”

Gale is all set to lead England around the park – he’ll likely play as the number one halfback – and is excited to play his first World Cup.

“Playing in a World Cup is a dream come true,” the Castleford Tigers linchpin said.

“It’s a great sporting event, one I’m looking forward to. The key to this group is everyone enjoys each other’s company. It’s a real good laugh.

“Wayne (Bennett) adds to that sense of one big happy family. He’s got a great sense of humour. It might not come across like that in the media, but he’s a great fella.”

Twenty-two-year-old Williams also revealed a larrikin side to the legendary coach that has helped the team bond.

“We get along well,” he said.

“Because I’m the youngest (in the squad), he gives me a bit of stick. It’s good fun. When it comes to training, he’s straight down the line. It’s good.”

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About the author

Andrew Marmont

Andrew is a freelance writer, producer and presenter. He writes for Big League, Rugby League World and Inside Sport. His book ‘Their Finest Hour: A History of the Rugby League World Cup in 10 Matches’ will be published in July 2017

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