ENGLAND captain Sean O’Loughlin says his players need no extra motivation when they line up against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday.
A win for the national side would guarantee them a place in the Four Nations Final for the first time since 2009, thanks to their opening round 32-26 success over Samoa, which drew a TV audience on BBC Two of 477,000.
And with New Zealand beating Australia 30-12 in last week’s opening round, many will suggest England have their best chance of beating the Kangaroos in years when they take to the field in special jerseys to mark the centenary of the historic third Test of the 1914 Lions tour.
It was a match that became known as the Rorke’s Drift Test, when with just nine fit men on the field at times during a match played five days after the second Test, England triumphed 14-6 with a performance which Australian journalists compared to the rearguard action staged by the British military against a Zulu army in South Africa in 1879.
O’Loughlin, who missed last weekend’s win over Samoa through injury and is facing an anxious wait to see if he is passed fit to play against the Aussies, said: “It’s always an honour and a privilege to represent your country but to do so against Australia in a jersey which commemorates such an important event in the sport’s history is going to be even more special.
“All the players and staff are acutely aware of the fantastic tradition of sporting feats between England and Australia and this jersey will bring 100 years of rivalry out of the history books and on to the pitch.
“None of us will need extra incentive on Sunday but the chance to pull on the Rorke’s Drift jersey is one the whole squad is longing to grab with both hands.”
New Zealand will also be looking to seal a place in this year’s final when they take on Samoa on Saturday.
Should the Kiwis and England win, it would create the situation where Australia could be out of the tournament before the last group game, giving them nothing to play for in their final match against Samoa.
But England coach Steve McNamara is refusing to get carried away with possible scenarios, though he does admit it would be good to knock out the world champions.
“It’s a really exciting prospect,” he admitted.
“We said we’d take it one game at a time and now we’ve got the Samoa game out of the way and the two points.”
England’s one off jersey has been produced by ISC and is available for sale in limited numbers from Down Under Leisure in Wigan and Lovell Rugby at www.lovell-rugby.co.uk
England v Australia at AAMI Park, Melbourne, will be broadcast live on BBC Two on Sunday November 2 from 4.30am.