FORMER captain Kevin Sinfield expects England to wrap up a series win when they face New Zealand in London today.
Sinfield’s final game of international rugby league was a last-gasp defeat by New Zealand in a World Cup semi-final at Wembley two years ago.
Now beginning a new career in rugby union with Yorkshire Carnegie, the ex-Leeds Rhinos skipper believes England are in a good position to finally put that disappointment behind them, following their 26-12 win in the first Test six days ago.
Sinfield said: “I thought England played very well, especially in the second half. They were dominant and I think Steve Mac [McNamara, the England coach] has done a great job.
“Having Jimmy [Lowes, McNamara’s assistant] back involved is fantastic and it’s great to see the Rhinos boys doing well. I think it will be a great series for England.”
The home nation haven’t beaten New Zealand in any series since Great Britain’s 3-0 success in 2007.
That broke a duck stretching back to a similar whitewash against the Kiwis in 1993, though there was a drawn tournament between the two sides in 2002.
Last week’s victory was their first over the Kiwis for four years and Sinfield predicted: “Both teams are going to improve this week, but I think the way they played that second half, England will be too strong.”
The Kiwis are rated as rugby league’s leading nation and the seven-time Grand Final winner feels it would be “huge” for the sport in this country if England can complete a series victory.
“I know they have come over with a weakened side, but you can only play what’s put in front of you,” he added.
“I thought England did a pretty good job last Sunday.
“It is important rugby league still has an international presence in this country.
“It has been a couple of years since the last time, so to make a success of it would be great for the sport.”
Today’s Test will be the first game of rugby league staged at the Olympic Stadium and Sinfield has backed the choice of venue.
“It’s somewhere new,” he said. “It is important there’s a decent crowd there and having seen the stadium on Sunday at Hull and how full it looked, there are great signs for the game.”