MATTY Smith has warned Australia England ‘will be ready for anything’ come Sunday.
The scrum-half, who made his England debut against Samoa last week, knows what is resting on the players’ shoulders going into the clash at Melbourne’s AAMI Park but the task in front of him isn’t denting his confidence ahead of the BBC Two clash (4.30am).
England have the chance to knock Australia out of the tournament with a win and Smith has moved to reassure fans he is fit after injuring his ankle in the win over Samoa last week, saying he will be fit and can’t wait to take on the World Champions.
“All we can do is what we know and work hard,” Smith told the Evening Post.
“We know Australia are there for the taking.”
But the 27-year-old Warriors star is under no illusion of the effort that will be needed to see a first England win over Australia since 1995.
“They were beaten last time out but saying that, it’s Australia and they are not the World Champions for nothing,” he added.
“What they have got is strength in depth and if they have got injuries they just bring someone else out – that’s how goods they are.
“It will be tough – we know that – but we’re up for that task.”
Smith, who has played in every domestic final with Wigan, is facing Australia for the first time.
And despite his collection of medals at home, he says representing his country against the World Champions will be the highlight of his career so far.
“For me to play Australia in Australia is probably to pinnacle of a player’s career,” he explained.
“For most people it’s the biggest game of their career.
“We believe we can go there and get the result and get through to that final.
“It’s exciting for us. We’re a young squad and people want to play on this big stage.”
He also knows that for England to have their best shot at beating the Aussies, they could do with captain Sean O’Loughlin on the field.
O’Loughlin was left out of Steve McNamara’s initial squad announcement earlier in the week but will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness as he recovers from a thigh injury.
“He’s been working really hard with the physio. He’s trying his best to get fit,” explainned Smith.
“The team want Lockers there as well – he’s our captain. We want him leading us out on Sunday.
“We need our best players playing and he’s working hard in training to give himself the best chance possible. He is one of the most professional people I know so he’ll do everything he can to be fit on Sunday.”
Another key component will be Smith’s partnership with St George Illawarra stand-off Gareth Widdop.
The pair impressed against Samoa last week as they played together for the first time, and Smith thinks their game is clicking.
“The first time I met Gaz was when we landed so I’ve only known him two weeks,” he said.
“But I’ve obviously watched him play and know how he plays. We’re rooming together – that’s important to spend a lot of time with him, go out for coffees and things because you need that partnership when you go out on the pitch.
We complement each other. I like to organise the team and he has a free role to play then so it’s a bit like me and Greeny (former Warriors stand-off Blake Green) at Wigan.”