Williams wary of Kiwi threat

George Williams goes over for England against France at Leigh Sports Village
George Williams goes over for England against France at Leigh Sports Village

GEORGE Williams says there is no danger of England under-estimating the injury-hit New Zealand team.

The Wigan halfback will discover in the next 24 hours whether he has kept his place for the opening game against the Kiwis.

Stephen Kearney’s squad was been hit by a string of high-profile withdrawals before they flew out for the three-Test series.

Golden boot winner Shaun Johnson, halfback partner Keiron Foran, captain Simon Mannering and brilliant prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are among their absentees.

But Williams says they won’t fall into the trap of focusing on who isn’t involved – and on the quality of the players who they will face in Hull on Sunday night.

“They’ve still got a lot of quality,” said Williams.

“They’ve got some great players and some young kids who’ve done well in NRL.

“They’ll definitely not be pushovers – they’re No.1 in the world for a reason.”

Williams displaced his Wigan halfback partner Matty Smith as England’s No.7 last weekend.

He scored a neat second-half try in the 84-4 rout of France, and his combination with St George Illawarra playmaker Gareth Widdop showed signs of promise.

“I was a bit nervous early on, for the first few touches I wasn’t in the game, but I got into it after that,” said the 20-year-old.

“France are normally better than that, but for us the big thing was working on combinations.”

Williams was given a huge vote of confidence at the start of the season when he was handed the coveted Wigan No.6 shirt.

He settled into the role and finished the year as Super League’s young player of the year – and earning a place in Steve McNamara’s 24-man squad.

“I was just happy to get in the squad, but once I got there I wanted to play,” he said. “When I got the nod (for the France Test), I was made up.”