BILLY Slater admits Wigan star Sam Tomkins is the man Australia fear the most going into tomorrow’s Gillette Four Nations battle with England.
Tomkins scored four of England’s tries in their opening 42-4 win over Wales to emphasise his attacking threat.
And Slater – who was named the world’s best player for the second time in four years in midweek – reckons his opposite number must be stopped if the Kangaroos are to come out on top in the Wembley showdown.
“We’ve played against Sam a couple of times and we’re certainly aware of what he’s capable of,” Slater said.
“He’s a dangerous player, and a great ball-runner.
“We’re going to have to make sure our defensive line is in order when he gets the ball because, if it’s a little bit off, he can certainly hurt us.
“They’ve also got some really hard-working forwards in Chris Heighington and Gareth Ellis who are going to add enthusiasm to their pack.
“It’s going to be a tough game and we’re preparing for that.”
Tomkins will again assume the full-back role tomorrow after England coach Steve McNamara named the same team for the third successive week, following solid wins over Wales and France.
It means Kevin Sinfield and Rangi Chase get the chance to continue their promising half-back partnership, with Gareth Widdop remaining on the bench.
And although Australians swept the board at the Rugby League International Federation awards dinner in midweek, Slater insists they will be treating their opponents with the utmost respect.
“You’d always trade individual honours for team success, and we’ve got a task tomorrow to worry about,” Slater recognised.
“It’s panning out to be a really tough Four Nations. The Kiwis showed that on Friday and the Poms look pretty slick in their work as well.
“We’re going to have our work cut out at Wembley for sure.”
Australia coach Tim Sheens makes two enforced changes to the side that beat New Zealand 26-12 in their opening match.
Centre Greg Inglis makes his return from a two-month injury absence as a straight replacement for Willie Tonga, who damaged a pectoral muscle against the Kiwis.
Inglis was always pencilled in for this match, with either Tonga or Chris Lawrence likely to make way.
“It probably saves me having to make a tough decision because both boys have been playing well,” Sheens said.
Sheens will make a late decision from a six-man bench on a replacement for prop David Shillington, who has been ruled out with an ankle injury sustained in a controversial tackle by New Zealand hooker Issac Luke last weekend.