Liam Farrell column: ‘PNG can cause England problems’

Jermaine McGillvary has impressed for England. Picture: NRL Photos
Jermaine McGillvary has impressed for England. Picture: NRL Photos

It’s been a long week in training, but I’ll not be sleeping in tomorrow!

England play Papua New Guinea in a World Cup quarter-final and I’m excited to see how we get on.

I must admit, I’ve not yet decided whether to set the alarm for 4.30am or record it, and get up about 6am or 7am and avoid the score!

But it should be a good game, and it goes without saying I’m hoping we progress to the semis.

After watching their comfortable win against France last week, I had a feeling Wayne Bennett would play Gaz Widdop at full-back again.

I know some people may say France aren’t the same standard opposition, but I thought he did a lot of good things in that match.

Widdop’s move to full-back has allowed Kevin Brown to carry on in the No.6 shirt.

Kev has done well when he’s played for England - he played well in the Test against Samoa mid-season, and against the Aussies last year – and I can understand his selection. I know Warrington had an off-year, but if you look back to when he was at Widnes, many of their good plays came off the back of Kev.

He’s got that experience and that calmness about the way he plays.

I think England will win, but that said, I think PNG can cause England some problems.

All of their players are strong ball carriers, and if they’re allowed to get quick play-the-balls, they can do some damage - I’m sure controlling the ruck will be something the lads will be keen to nail. Obviously I’ve loved it every time I’ve played for my country, but I can’t say I’m gutted to be missing this game! I’ve never played against PNG, but everyone who has tells you they’d be happy not to play against them again because they hit so hard!

We’re now into our second week of pre-season, and everyone is ripping in.

The volume of work has been the big thing to get used to.

We’re doing four sessions a day - so, for example, the forwards will do weights in the morning while the backs are out on the field doing skills sessions, and then we will swap over.

Then, after lunch, we’ll do the same thing again.

Throw into that the other bits of training – spin cycling sessions, wrestling-conditioning – and they’re long days, but everyone knows the benefits.

Elsewhere, I noticed the Joining Jack team have recruited Pat Richards for the Dubai sevens. Good luck to them. With Paddy on board, they’ll certainly have a great player in their ranks.