Jamie Jones-Buchanan reckons England’s season can mirror Leeds Rhinos’.
England are reeling from a battling defeat by Australia at Wembley last week, but will qualify for another crack at the Kangaroos – in next Saturday’s Elland Road final – if they overcome New Zealand in this evening’s Gillette Four Nations clash.
Jones-Buchanan was a member of the Rhinos team beaten by Wigan Warriors in this year’s Carnegie Challenge Cup final, in similarly controversial circumstances.
Leeds responded to that Wembley setback by winning their six games afterwards, including the Engage Super League Grand Final.
It is a similar scenario for the national side and Jones-Buchanan is convinced they can produce a repeat performance.
“We know what we’ve got to do,” said the back-rower, who is preparing for his 38th competitive game of 2011.
“We’ve got the Kiwis now and it’s a matter of beating them and getting to the final. You can’t win trophies without getting to finals and it is all about who turns up on the night.
“It’s a bit like the Super League season. We had that disappointment at Wembley and now we’ve got to build on that and come back stronger.”
New Zealand are odds-on favourites for victory at Hull’s KC Stadium, but – according to Jones-Buchanan – last week’s performance indicated England have got what it takes to go all the way.
“I don’t think we are that far off,” he stated. “If you look at some of the things that didn’t go our way last week, had they done it could have been a different game.
“There’s also things we didn’t do that well that we need to clean up. We have to be a bit more composed, when we get to their end of the field we have got to take
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a few more chances and build a bit more pressure.
“We have got some courageous lads in our team and some skilful boys and we are looking forward to this game.”
Jones-Buchanan is convinced England will be better for a close game last week, despite the result.
He added: “It has been tough. With respect to Wales and France they gave us some good games, but we haven’t had the intensity we need since the Super League play-offs.
“Last week was a nice shock to the system. It’s like doing weights, when you do a bit extra your body grows a bit stronger for the next time and I think that’s what we did last week.”
Four tries against the Kangaroos boosted England’s confidence, but Jones-Buchanan is aware there’s a reason the Kiwis are World and Four Nations champions.
“We can all learn from what we did right and what we did wrong last week, so we kick on going into this game,” he said.
“We have got a bit more belief and a bit more confidence now, but the Kiwis are a quality side and they are very dangerous when they play how they want to play.
“We are expecting a very tough game. They are a different outfit altogether, so we need to approach it a bit differently.
“But the lads are up to the task. We are in a semi-final – and that was going to be the case whatever happened last week.
“In terms of the path towards the final, nothing had changed. Australia are guaranteed to be there and we have got a job to do now, but we are looking forward to doing it.”