ENGLAND HAVE “no excuses” for a poor performance when they face Samoa in Sydney tomorrow, Leeds Rhinos centre Kallum Watkins insists.
The midseason Test is England’s only competitive fixture ahead of this autumn’s World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The England squad flew out last weekend, but Watkins said preparations have gone well despite the travel and time difference.
“I’m enjoying it, it has been good,” said Watkins, who is one of two Leeds players in the side for tomorrow, along with winger Ryan Hall. We have travelled a long way and we’re only here for a short space of time, but it’s a challenge for us.
“We have prepared well and when it comes to playing the game there’s no excuses for us, we just want to go out there and perform the best we can. If we do that we can definitely get a good result and that will help us prepare for what’s to come at the end of the year.”
Watkins said the England players got over jetlag “pretty quickly”. He added: “It took us a couple of days, but we’ve followed the protocols the staff gave us. We’ve been getting the sleep we need, which is really important close to the game.”
Of Samoa, Watkins warned: “They have got some really talented players who are playing well in the NRL. It is going to be a tough game and a tough test, but that’s what we need. It will help us in terms of our preparation [for the World Cup] and our togetherness. It’s a big challenge, but the more games we can play together the better we’ll be.”
England duty means Watkins will lose an ever-present record for Leeds stretching back to the start of last season.
He will be keeping in touch with how Rhinos fare at Catalans Dragons tomorrow and said: “It’s a big game for Leeds after last week. That wasn’t a great result [a 31-12 home loss to Huddersfield Giants] and we have to react to that. Me and Hally are missing, but we’ve got a good squad and we should be okay. It is always a challenge going to Catalans, they are pretty good at home, but I’m sure we’ll respond from last week.”
The England side to face Samoa is: Ratchford (Warrington Wolves), McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Watkins (Leeds Rhinos), Hardaker (Castleford Tigers), Hall (Leeds), Brown (Warrington), Gale (Castleford), S Burgess (Canberra Raiders), Hodgson (Canberra), Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), McMeeken (Castleford), Whitehead (Canberra), O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors). Subs Hill (Warrington), Heighington (Cronulla Sharks), McQueen (Gold Coast Titans), T Burgess (South Sydney).