England captain Sean O’Loughlin says Jermaine McGillvary’s success in fighting a biting charge has given the whole team a World Cup lift.
The Huddersfield winger was cleared of a charge of contrary conduct by a tournament disciplinary panel in Sydney on Wednesday, freeing him up for Sunday’s final group game against France in Perth.
McGillvary could have been banned for up to 12 weeks had he been found guilty of biting Lebanon captain Robbie Farah during last Saturday’s match at the Sydney Football Stadium but he was exonerated, much to the relief of the player.
“I think all the boys were pumped just for Jerry,” O’Loughlin said. “He was obviously worried where things were.
“To get him back and him involved in the tournament is great for him and the boys all around him as well.”
McGillvary maintained his innocence but O’Loughlin says the vagaries of a different judicial system to the one that operates in Super League made for an anxious 48 hours for his team-mate.
“Obviously you don’t know how the system works over here, if it works slightly different or not, but I think most of the boys knew there wasn’t much in it from Jerry’s point of view and they were just glad he got the decision,” O’Loughlin said.
“He knew there wasn’t much in it. I think it was just the fact that it was out of his hands a little bit and the waiting around and that kind of stuff.
“He took it all in his stride and, as soon as the decision was made, you could see he was pumped to know that he could carry on playing in the tournament.”
Coach Wayne Bennett had Ryan Hall, England’s all-time leading tryscorer, standing by to take McGillvary’s place in the team for the game at the Rectangular Stadium.
But O’Loughlin admits the availability of the powerfully-built McGillvary, who has scored tries in both group games so far, is a major boost.
“That’s the biggest thing for us,” the skipper added. “We want him playing alongside us. He’s had a fantastic two games already and I’m sure he’ll feature heavily in the forthcoming games as well.”
O’Loughlin was speaking at a civic reception held in the centre of Perth and effectively launched Sunday’s double header, which begins with Wales taking on Ireland in their final Group C game.
The Wigan captain, who was joined on the stage by players from the other three nations, says the World Cup, now at the halfway stage, is on course to be a success.
“It’s been really good,” he said. “The reception we’ve had everywhere we’ve been has been great, the games have been high class and the boys are enjoying the rugby.
“Obviously there was disappointment at the start with not quite getting the win but the boys responded well last week and the boys are looking forward to getting another game under their belt this week.”