Ratchford: This Test should be a classic

Stefan Ratchford hopes England can put on a show in their historic Test against New Zealand tonight.

Saturday, 23rd June 2018, 7:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 12:12 pm
Stefan Ratchford in training

They clash in Denver in the first of three mid-season matches, on successive years, in America.

Reporters in the Colorado city say the game has been heavily-marketed and expect a decent crowd of 20,000-plus - for a match screened on BBC2 at 9.10pm UK time.

And Wigan-born Ratchford hopes to do the occasion proud.

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He said: “This has got a special feel with it being in America and a ground-breaking Test.

“Any Test match is usually a spectacle and on the back of the World Cup, we want to build some momentum, they want to bounce back.

“It has all the makings of a classic and hopefully it will be a spectacle for everyone tuning in.”

Former St Pat’s junior Ratchford, who plays for Warrington, is set to start at full-back with St Helens’ Jonny Lomax - an Orrell St James product - partnering Gareth Widdop in the halves. Wigan’s Sean O’Loughlin is expected to lead out the team, which will feature his club team-mate John Bateman.

New Zealand are without several of their frontline players but coach Michael Maguire has swept away suggestions he has picked a development side – and Ratchford will certainly not be taking them lightly tonight.

“They’re dangerous, the players they produce are top quality and they’ll be looking to prove a point after a poor World Cup,” he said.

England host the Kiwis later this year in a three-Test series and Ratchford says the mid-season game is a key part of their build-up, which also includes training sessions and meetings with the elite training squad.

“The RFL has put the programme together and we have regular meetings, meals out, and it gets everyone comfortable with each other,” he added.

Maguire is familiar with the bulk of the England squad, having coached half the pack during his time with Wigan and Souths.

“They’ve obviously been together a fair bit of time and I’m aware of their players because I spent some time over there coaching in Super League,” said the Australian boss.

“But we’re focused on ourselves.”