‘England will beat New Zealand by eight points’ - 18th man column

Sam Tomkins in training yesterday. Picture: SWPix
Sam Tomkins in training yesterday. Picture: SWPix

Our 18th man columnists discuss England’s prospects, Oliver Gildart’s try, and Test match attendances...

How do you rate England’s chances of beating New Zealand on Sunday?

Jon Lyon: I think we have an excellent chance of sealing the series win early. Sadly O’Loughlin will be missing, comforted by the fantastic news of his new one year deal at Wigan. But this should hopefully give Joe Greenwood a deserved call up.

Whilst the Kiwis had plenty chances in the first test, I think we will have shaken off some rustiness and should be more cohesive in attack. Defensively we were extremely committed and this will be needed again with New Zealand likely to throw the ball around more.

If our defence can be as aggressive we should be able to force more errors from a more attacking Kiwi team, and I expect an England win by eight points.

Sean Lawless: I am still impressed and equally surprised that England are one-nil up in the series, as well as the Tomkins-Williams partnership showing glimpses of what could have been for Wigan. I do expect New Zealand to level the series to take it to the decider in Leeds. Shaun Johnson played okay but he has so much more to offer and 
Anfield could well be the platform for Magic Johnson.

Darren Wrudd: If we play like we played last week, then I don’t rate our chances very highly. Our last play options gave us very little for the whole match and a couple of moments of genius against the play was all that got us over the finish line. 
New Zealand will be furious with their effort and although we stood up in defence they unlocked us several times with ease when their plays came off.

If they hold on to the ball and keep some structure, we will find it difficult but not impossible. Keep the fire in our defence and get some structure in our attack, that will give us a chance.

But I think we will see a very different Kiwi side on Sunday.

Robert Kenyon: I think we will just have enough to turn them over, although they will have a point to prove after last week.

Jessie Bromwich suggesting that England were lucky hints that they’ll be back fighting harder next time. We will need to change a few players around, Lomax has never done anything significant on the international stage to warrant his selection, I’d put Ratchford in for him and keep Williams and Tomkins at 6 and 7, a position which I’ve always said is Sam’s best and natural position since he came back from New Zealand, I’m glad Bennett sees that too, great minds and all that.

I wouldn’t put Thompson in at loose forward, I’d play him at prop and with Lockers missing, I’d play Milner. I’d also drop McGilvary for Tom Johnstone and start Daryl Clark for Hodgson.

Finish this sentence. Oliver Gildart scored the best try I’ve seen for England/Great Britain since...

Jon Lyon: My favourite Great Britain try scored by my favourite player, Joe Lydon’s exceptional effort against Australia in the first test in 1986.

It was a similar try to Gildart’s in that he received the ball 60 metres out running at full pelt, and took on and beat Garry Jack with ease to score in the corner.

Such a graceful runner, Lydon made supposedly the best full back in the world look second rate, it’s well worth another look on YouTube, one of GB’s few highlights in that Test series

Sean Lawless: Ryan Hall at Wembley against Australia in 2011.

Darren Wrudd: Since Mike Gregory broke down field to score the winning long range try for Great Britain in 1988, clinching the first victory over the Aussies for over a decade.

After a couple of crackers from Henderson Gill, our very own Andy Gregory picked up from dummy half and broke the line with a fantastic side step, committed the defence and put Mike through the gap. There was no way he was going to be caught and it sealed the victory for an historic moment in our game. I would encourage any of you to YouTube the highlights of that game as the commentary really picks out the excitement of the moment.

Robert Kenyon: Probably Paul Wellens in the 2006 game against Australia where Long cut through and passed back inside for Wellens.

The first Test drew a crowd of 17,000-plus – why do you think it wasn’t higher, and what figure would represent a success on Sunday?

Jon Lyon: As always the marketing doesn’t seem to have been very imaginative or proactive. If we’re not selling these games out I don’t see why the unsold tickets can’t be given to schools to get the next generation of fans involved.

A third of the stadium being empty doesn’t look good on TV and doesn’t give the atmosphere England and rugby league need.

I would hope for at least 25,000 at Anfield on Sunday. The Kiwis’ visit to the stadium this week and performance of the haka in front of Liverpool’s football team has been widely shown on social media and should generate more interest.

In many ways it’s the crucial Test of the series and given the closeness of the first match there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect a much improved attendance.

Sean Lawless: I read somewhere that this is New Zealand’s ninth visit to the UK in the past 15 years, I think that is the biggest issue.

If it was an Ashes series I would expect Hull to have been full and even a game against Tonga, perhaps a 
bigger crowd.

It’s just a bit repetitive at the moment and we seem to be playing New Zealand more than we should. Anything under a sell out at Anfield is a failure and it will not be anywhere near full – so already it has failed.

The RFL should be held accountable, it’s all well and good taking games to great stadiums, but you have to sell them out.

Darren Wrudd: It was not higher in my opinion because it was on the east coast, a long drive even if you are based in Leeds never mind Wigan, St Helens or Warrington.

Add to that the total lack of promotion our game suffers from and inward looking attitudes, I was pleasantly surprised that there were so many there at all.

I would hope that there will be as many at Anfield, but when we booked our coach there was only one coach going from said company and no more planned.

If we can at least top the 20,000 mark, it would be a step forward but to call it a success, then a 30,000 crowd is needed really.

As a sport, we should be looking to sell these venues out, even if it means doing every ticket in the stadium at five quid and promoting it like mad. Create the demand, show the spectacle and future years will fare all the better for it.

Robert Kenyon: 17,000 isn’t surprising when there is zero advertising done, isn’t Nigel Wood the head of international rugby league now? And it’s failing?

Hmmmm (scratches head).

It was on terrestrial TV but even so I know it’s been difficult to obtain tickets for people wanting to go, never mind the neutrals or even the casual fan.

But in my opinion Hull FC would have had more fans there if they’d have played New Zealand so it’s not the location, it’s the organisers who have scored an own goal in my opinion.

For me, with Anfield a success would be over 50,000 or even capacity.

We ‘should’ get 35,000 but we will be lucky to get over 20,000 because the people running the game aren’t fit for purpose in my opinion.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been a bad idea seeing as though the game is so close to St Helens, Wigan, Widnes and Warrington to speak to the local bus companies, have them as minor sponsors somehow and have free shuttle buses from those grounds to Anfield before and after the game if they really want to fill it out but make it known months beforehand.

Maybe give discounted tickets for Liverpool season ticket holders and advertise this in the LFC programme for a while beforehand to get them talking and get them interested.