Talking Sport: England have high hopes in Four Nations

Trevor Watson
Trevor Watson

Here we go again. England’s rugby league heroes taking on Australia on Sunday with a chance of knocking the Kangaroos out of the Four Nations tournament.

After being thumped by New Zealand, another defeat sinks the Aussies, so English hopes are high.

There have been quite a few occasions in the past 30 years when Britain, or England, have had Australia over a barrel in Ashes, World Cups, scrabble, just about everything.

Each time the green and golds have escaped and won through but they look more vulnerable now.

For a start because Australia are well below strength and lost two players on Saturday.

But a warning comes from the attitude of Kangaroo skipper Cameron Smith who said after the defeat: ‘We had 15 Australian players out there, still healthy and ready to go and that should be good enough.’

That compared with England’s approach when excuses were made after a fortunate victory over Samoa: ‘It was very hot, the ball was slippy, no warm-up match.’ It was the same for the Samoans.

I trust the BBC coverage will be more balanced but I doubt it. There’s a growing trend for commentators to be cheerleaders, probably whipped up by the Olympics but they should listen to such ‘greats as Richie Benaud, Henry Longhurst and Dan Maskell for sensible reactions .

Last Saturday Dave Woods remarked after a highly-dubious England try had the crowd booing: ‘It’s not gone down very well but who cares?’ Brian Noble shouted: ‘Come on England.’ If they’re going to act as supporters, give them a scarf and sit them in the crowd.

It still seems incredible that St Helens, who topped Super League and won the Grand Final, have nobody in the England squad. Surely, Alex Walmsley and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook should have had a chance.

Joel Tomkins played a few games at centre for Wigan after returning from rugby union and went straight into the England second row.

Leeds United have changed manager again. Still Watford have had four managers this season and they’re joint top, so it might work at Elland Road.

At least the job has gone to somebody who respects the club in Neil Redfearn. Many fans feel he should have been there in July.

It was hilarious watching the wrestling at a corner during the Man U v Chelsea game. Two United players were lucky not to concede penalties for stiff arm tackles. Mind you, one of the victims was John Terry, who has done his share of blocking over the years and remains a top defender.

Chelsea gave away six yellow cards and a red, showing they believe in stopping opponents before they get into the penalty area.

You have to smile when a defender chases a man who has gone past him, there is what is quaintly described by the professionals as ‘a coming together’ and nothing is wrong. Strangely, it’s always the attacker who finishes on the floor.