Williams plans to go ‘hard’ against England mates

George Williams
George Williams

George Williams says none of the England players will be tip-toeing through Saturday’s mouthwatering showdown.

Five members of Wayne Bennett’s squad – two from Wigan and three from Castleford – will fly out to Australia just hours after the top-of-the-table clash at The Jungle.

Inevitably, all will be keen to avoid injury which would threaten their involvement in the May 6 Test against Samoa. But Williams, who is in the squad with Sean O’Loughlin, says self-preservation will not be at the back of their mind.

“You can’t think like that,” the 22-year-old said. “Some of the England lads have been joking about it, because they play each other this weekend.

“But it’s rugby, if you go into it half-hearted the chances are something will happen.

“You’ve just got to go hard and touch wood, everyone will put up healthy.”

Opponent Zak Hardaker, one of three Tigers in the England squad, agreed. “It’s like in training, I hate it when a coach says: ‘Go 70 per cent’ – I think you get injured more if you just dip your toe in,” said the ex-Man of Steel.

“You’ve got to be fully committed, we’ll be knocking lumps out of each other and then switch to England.”

Tigers halfback Luke Gale needs to pass a mandatory ‘head test’ to play in Saturday’s non-televised game. Mike McMeeken is also included.

Stand-off Gareth Widdop has been ruled out of the Test after suffering a knee injury playing for St George Illawarra in the NRL. Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford has been drafted in as replacement.

The former Wigan St Pat’s junior can provide cover for all the back positions, and play halfback and hooker – his inclusion increases the prospect of Gale and Williams starting in the halfback roles against Samoa.

“We were rooming together last year and we got on like a house on fire,” said Williams, who has battled with Gale for a place in the England side in the past.

“I remember in 2015, when I got the nod, Galey and Matty Smith were great with me.

And when Galey got the gig against New Zealand and I didn’t, it was the same.

“As much as we want to play, you’ve got to do what’s best for the team.”

Meanwhile, Shaun Wane said yesterday he expected Thomas Leuluai to be ruled out for six weeks with his broken jaw.

Ex-Warrior Lee Mossop yesterday signed a new three-year deal at Salford after moving in the off season.