ENGLAND’S opening 17-16 loss to New Zealand in the Ladbrokes Four Nations has done nothing to dent confidence in the camp, Castleford Tigers scrum-half Luke Gale says.
The Kiwis and Australia are now favourites to meet in the tournament decider in 19 days’ time, but Gale feels England will be better for their first hit-out against a top nation under new boss Wayne Bennett.
“I think we’ve got to take a lot from it,” said the Tigers man.
“The result didn’t go our way, but I thought we were the best team for long periods of that game.
“We started off really well, they scrambled well as international teams do.
“The first 20 minutes were really good and the last 20 minutes of the first half I can’t remember getting the ball.
“They got a late try and the start of the second half didn’t go our way as well.
“I didn’t think we were the smartest, but there’s a lot of positives we can take.”
England trailed 12-4 early in the second half and 16-10 on 55 minutes, but hit back to level the scores before Shaun Johnson’s drop goal edged the Kiwis home.
“The effort was outstanding,” Gale added.
“I don’t know how many repeat sets they had, but our goal line D [defence] was outstanding. There was one point in it at the end and we gifted them maybe a couple of tries.
“We could have been smarter, but we will dust ourselves off and go again.
“If you lose you have got to learn something from it.
“I think we will learn a lot from that one.”
Gale was involved in the build-up to both of England’s tries on his home Test debut.
He has featured in both this year’s autumn internationals after being a non-playing member of the 2015 squad.
“It’s good,” he said. “I am loving it playing for England.
“I have dreamed of this since being a little boy.
“I want to kick on now and take it to the next level.
“I am loving my role at seven. Obviously it’s a bit different to your club football.
“I am playing with 17 class players. It’s the first time I’ve been involved with the boys and I am learning different combinations so that’s going to be tough, but I am really enjoying it.”
Gale described Bennett – rated as one of rugby league’s greatest coaches – as an “inspirational figure”.
“When he talks, you listen,” said the Tigers half-back. “I am really enjoying my time under him and I am learning a lot.”
England’s hopes of qualifying for the final, at Liverpool FC’s Anfield, now rest on them beating Scotland in Coventry on Saturday and Australia – at the Olympic Stadium in London – eight days later.
Scotland, who lost their opener 54-12 to Australia, are the tournament minnows, but Gale insisted: “We have to prepare the same as we did for New Zealand.
“Our preparation was outstanding all week. We had a couple of days off [after last Saturday] and now we’ll go through the same process.”
Points difference could be a factor, but Gale said: “If we get our performance right the points take care of themselves.
“We will just go through the process again.
“Hopefully we will get the job done.”