England captain Sean O'Loughlin suffers injury setback

Sean O'Loughlin is facing a race against time to be fit for the second Test against New Zealand.

Sunday, 28th October 2018, 7:15 am
Updated Sunday, 28th October 2018, 8:18 am
Sean O'Loughlin. Picture: SWPix

The only disappointment from’s England’s 18-16 win in Hull yesterday was the loss of their captain with a recurrence of a long-standing calf injury that puts his involvement in next Sunday’s second Test at Anfield in doubt.

Coach Wayne Bennett said: “Luke Thompson came on and did a great job for us.

“You miss your top players but when someone else comes out like he did and just carries on and was heavily involved in the game, it made Sean’s loss much easier than it could have been.

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“He he’s a very fit guy and can play long minutes for us.”

Michael Maguire’s Kiwis were leading 16-14 with 14 minutes to go but were sunk by a wonderful solo try from debutant centre Oliver Gildart.

Sam Tomkins and Jake Connor also scored tries for new-look England to get the post-World Cup era off to a winning start.

“I hope you all realise you’ve got a pretty special footy team,” Bennett said. “The English should be really proud of them.

“They’re a great group of guys, they work really hard. We couldn’t have given any more, we didn’t have a bad player.

“There are about 10 guys that played in the World Cup who are not here, so we’re building some depth, which is important, and we’re building a lot of young men with desire who really want to rattle the cages of Australia and New Zealand.

“It was a wonderful game and the boys have given everything they’ve got. It was important for both teams to play like we did today to show everybody that it’s a full-on Test series.

“It’s the best of three games and I’ve no doubt next week won’t be any easier, it will be tougher because New Zealand will want to win.”

Winger Tom Makinson was chosen by his team-mates as player of the match on his second Test appearance.

Bennett said: “He was outstanding, I just couldn’t believe what he did. The more bodies they put in front of him, the harder he ran at them.”

And of Gildart’s match-winning try, Bennett said: “It was a great centre’s try, we don’t see enough of them.

“He did a great job, 50 metres, beat two or three players on the way, it was great to watch.”

There was a touch of controversy with Connor awarded a penalty try after use of his feet by Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

New Zealand coach Maguire refused to be drawn on the penalty try but insisted his team would be able to bounce back.

“I’ll have to have another look before make a comment, but it’s one of those moments you’ve got to be able to handle and get through,” he said.

“The game was there to take for both teams. I think they applied a bit more pressure than we did.

“At the end of the day it’s all part of game, it’s about how we respond and I’m really looking forward to that.”