SHAUN Wane reckons England’s biggest obstacle of World Cup glory won’t be on the pitch - but in their heads.
A proud Brit, he also has a clutch of his players representing the nation as they aim to get their campaign off to a flyer with a victory against Australia.
Wane reckons the squad at Steve McNamara’s disposal is capable of competing with Australia and New Zealand. He rates Super League’s Sam Tomkins, Sean O’Loughlin and Ryan Hall – and the NRL’s Burgess boys – among the world’s best.
But he says their biggest hurdle throughout the tournament won’t be Greg Inglis or Sonny Bill Williams – but their own mentality.
Wane, who guided Wigan to a trophy double this year, said: “England need to concentrate for 80 minutes.
“I know that may sound like a cliche, but so often we’ve done it for 70, 72 minutes, and the Aussies will compete for 80. We’ve fallen off, and it’s a mental thing more than a physical one.
“They have low penalty counts, they’re more patient, and we need to do that, because at the back end of the game it’s so important.
“The personnel England have is fantastic. Fantastic. But their mentality – that’s the question mark for me. They need to have that mental toughness to stay patient, play the right side of the field, play smart.”
Many of Wane’s staff are involved in the World Cup, including both assistants Iestyn Harris and Paul Deacon, and conditioning staff Mark Bitcon and Iestyn Harris.
From last season’s squad, Tomkins, O’Loughlin, Lee Mossop, Mike McIlorum, Liam Farrell, Josh Charnley (England), Anthony Gelling (Cook Islands), Ben Flower, Rhodri Lloyd, Gil Dudson (Wales), Pat Richards (Ireland) and Harrison Hansen (Samoa) are involved.
New recruit Eddy Pettybourne is also in the USA camp.
And Wane admits he will also be keeping a lookout for any potential signings. “There’s no-one in particular we’re looking at,” he said. “But we have a little room under our (salary) cap if we see someone we think can improve us.”
The size of McNamara’s assignment has never been under-estimated; it is more than four decades since a side from these shores last achieved such a feat, Clive Sullivan’s heroes winning the 1972 World Cup for Great Britain in Lyon.
But McNamara, who insisted on being allowed to make vast improvements in England’s off-field resources when taking up the role, including investing in sports science and establishing a base at Loughborough University to help fulfill that aim, believes they are on course to deliver.
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