With the ultimate World Championship goal still only four months away, no one will be swept up in that mid-season victory — not least Shawn Wayne. The England boss insists his team need to stay on the ground, but nonetheless it was an impressive training for his team against the Combined Nations All Stars that beat England this time last year.
Wayne stressed his belief that moving the World Cup from last year to this fall would only benefit his young team. This was a finding and a performance that suggests he may be right. With key players returning from injury and the Australian weightlifters, who play in the National Football League, not having enough for this test, it’s clear that this team has some extra gear.
However, the majority of the players here have given Wane some thought for the next four months, with only one warm-up match remaining against Fiji ahead of the World Cup finals against Samoa at St James’ Park starting in mid-October. “In general, I thought there were more good things than bad,” Wayne said then, in a usually assertive manner.
“There are areas we can improve, but we did some good things. We were a little depressed but we deserved to win. There are areas where we can be better but if we win 80-0 I still want us to improve. An important step on the road to the World Cup.”
His team was much stronger than the two, and from the moment Jake Wardle made his test debut with a try ten minutes later, it seemed like the hosts were in control of the score. Wardle was one of several players on the sidelines who had a chance, and like St Helens star Jack Welsby, they certainly underlined the depth that Wayne has at his disposal at the World Cup. So was the man who scored England’s second goal here.
The selection of George Williams has been called into question after an overwhelming streak of club-wide performances in favor of Warrington. But he justified Wane’s confidence with a neat attempt towards the end of the first half, finishing a fine break against towering John Pittman to put England ahead 12-0. “I know George can play, I know he handles it aggressively but I trust him,” Wayne said of the former Wigan centre-back.
Williams and Welsby had a good relationship in the first half, but making sure Johnny Lomax will be at the World Cup when he’s fit is another welcome selection issue Wayne should consider over the summer. Batman put on an impressive international display with an excellent solo attempt after the break that saw Sam Tomkins convert all three attempts to make the score 18-0.
The All-Stars suffered a major struggle but ultimately lacked quality in attack, despite an exciting cameo from Kruise Leeming, the English prostitute who did well for Leeds this year.
Kruise was instrumental in only trying the visitors as his pass put a podium for Ken Seo in the last minutes. By then, the work had been done by Wayne and his well-trained English crew.