Rugby League World Cup- The 18th man: 'Things will start to get tougher for England now'
The 18th man contributors look ahead to England’s quarter-final at the DW Stadium and reflect on all the talking points from the Rugby League World Cup.
It's always a good feeling to see your team win well, and when it is our national side it’s all the better.
Greece were no real opponents at this level of course, but the fixture had special meaning and was played in the good spirit of the game once more.
I was not sure we learned much from the performance but a couple of positives stood out for me.
Dom Young had a super game, scoring freely in the first half but then we seemed to change our attack to the other wing and did just as well, which was good to see.
George Williams continues to regain his Canberra form and looked good whilst the pack were totally dominant over the Greece charges.
The bigger lesson over the weekend may have come from two other results.
Samoa put the cleaners through France, in a dominant display of what we originally expected from them as a squad.
They have improved considerably and in a couple of short weeks have become a real threat as they settle in to play alongside one another.
The other result was the Papua New Guinea match, in torrential rain as they put Wales down showing everyone that they are not here to simply make up the numbers.
The Kumels have such an aggressive energy in their playing style, if they can control a few sets they could be a real problem and having earned the right to play the quarter-final against us at the DW this weekend, they will be desperate to go one step further.
They have a scattering of big names to contend with and they don’t get more dangerous that Justin Olam and Alex Johnston, two free scoring runners from the NRL whilst Lachlan Lamb and Reece Martin need no introduction as we have seen much of them this year.
So this is surely where things get very serious, very quickly and I can see a couple of changes in last weeks starting line up to perhaps solidify our maturity in defence.
Last weekend, we went along with friends James and Ebonie to support the Jamaican team at Leigh.
Complete with Flag and team sponsored bobble hats we cheered them on as they put in a good performance in defeat to Lebanon.
The atmosphere was party-like and when the Reggae Warriors put in their second try a chap in front of us leapt to his feet exclaiming time and again, ‘that’s my son’ with a smile from ear to ear.
Much flag waving and cheering and even a little dance at one point meant it was a really enjoyable afternoon.
To finish, after the final whistle we went to the pitch side and waited for the Jamaican captain Ash Goulding to come around and sign the flag for us.
What a breath of fresh air that young man is.
He spent so much time chatting to families and children, but really engaging with them over photos and signatures.
I came away from that with a massive smile and almost 45 minutes after full time Ash was still chatting and meeting the crowds as we left.
He was a real ambassador for the sport, his team and his Country and is one of those lasting memories I shall take from this tournament.
I thought Greece started off quite well, but once we got a roll on it became a procession. Considering the game was banned in Greece until fairly recently, all credit to them and at least they got a try on the board.
Things will get a bit tougher now, but even so, I would expect us to beat PNG on Saturday.
I think we should pick Andy Ackers at hooker, as he gives us more of a running threat from dummy half.
I agree with the comments made by John Kear, the World Cup has been good but to develop the game we need a full international calendar, so teams get to play on a more regular basis than once a year.
The Greek win was a given, but thought they held us up at the start but we blew them away in the second half.
It was good to try out other combinations in preparation for the later stages of the tournament and the game was a confidence booster.
This week PNG will be a totally different style of game and we need to field a team to win that game.
PNG will bring a lot higher quality and intensity on Saturday than the Greeks did so we need to be ready.
I'm sure Shaun Wane will have some selection headaches this week but for me we need to pick our best team with an eye on gelling and creating some consistency if we get past them.
For me the best team is Tomkins, Young, Watkins, Farnworth, Hall, Williams, Sneyd, Burgess, McIllorum, Hill, Whitehead, Bateman and Radley. With Lees, Welsby, Thompson and Knowles on the bench.