O’Loughlin: England rusty in World Cup loss

Sean O'Loughlin takes on the Kangaroos' defence. NRL Photos
Sean O'Loughlin takes on the Kangaroos' defence. NRL Photos

Captain Sean O’Loughlin feels England are still rusty after the 18-4 defeat by Australia in their opening World Cup clash.

England pushed holders Australia all the way before conceding eight points in the last five minutes at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

Jermaine McGillvary put England ahead with the opening try early in the match before scores from Australians Matt Gillett, Billy Slater and Josh Dugan - all converted by Cameron Smith - saw the defending champions claim victory.

“We knew what a good side we were going to come up against. Both sides are a little bit rusty still and there were quite a few errors from both sides,” O’Loughlin told BBC Two.

“We’re not pleased with the loss but we can take a lot from it.

“The back three was strong with their kicks and they carried the ball well for us. Everyone had a really big night.”

Australia full-back Slater hailed England’s back three of Jonny Lomax, Ryan Hall and McGillvary.

“We were prepared for a tough battle and we got that, we were a bit scratchy in attack, there is improvement to make but it was a good start,” the 34-year-old said.

“England’s strengths are their back three, their wingers are hard to handle, they shift the ball and make you defend. They’re a good side and they’ll go well in this competition.”

On the link-up play between Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and himself, Slater added: “We’ve played together for 17 years, we have those plays up our sleeve.

“We just need to hold the ball, build pressure and get them tired for those to come off.”