Josh Hodgson and John Bateman must step up if England are to lift World Cup – Jamie Peacock

FORMER England captain Jamie Peacock says the likes of Josh Hodgson and John Bateman need to have the “tournament of their lives” for the country to finally enjoy World Cup success again.
KEY MAN: John Bateman celebrates in England colours. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.KEY MAN: John Bateman celebrates in England colours. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
KEY MAN: John Bateman celebrates in England colours. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Although there remains concern due to the pandemic, the tournament is set to go ahead in this country in the autumn with England opening matters against Samoa on October 23.

Having gone so close in 2017, losing the final 6-0 to Australia in Brisbane under Wayne Bennett, many onlookers will hope home advantage can see them at last succeed for the first time since Great Britain prospered in 1972.

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England, of course, now have former Wigan Warriors boss Shaun Wane at the helm although he is still yet to take charge of a game 12 months after being appointed as Bennett’s successor.

CUP MISSION: England's Josh Hodgson. Picture: Chris Mangnall/SWpix.com.CUP MISSION: England's Josh Hodgson. Picture: Chris Mangnall/SWpix.com.
CUP MISSION: England's Josh Hodgson. Picture: Chris Mangnall/SWpix.com.

Ex-Leeds Rhinos prop Peacock, who was England team manager from 2016 but stepped down last year, said: “I’m quite optimistic that, by the time we get through to September, we will have crowds in there and that the World Cup will be a great opportunity for the game.

“There will have been a famine of live sport for them to watch and you’d hope that would see people really getting behind it.

“A home rugby league World Cup, too, it ticks all the boxes for making a success of things and it should be a great spectacle.

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“The England side has got some great players but a lot of experience has gone when you look at James Graham, Sean O’Loughlin and Sam Burgess all retiring.

Experienced former England players James Graham and Sean O'Loughlin have retired. Picture: David Neilson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ.Experienced former England players James Graham and Sean O'Loughlin have retired. Picture: David Neilson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ.
Experienced former England players James Graham and Sean O'Loughlin have retired. Picture: David Neilson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ.

“If we’re going to have a great tournament then I think it is probably going to be time for people like Josh Hodgson and John Bateman to really step up.”

Peacock, 43, says Canberra Raiders hooker Hodgson and ex-Bradford Bulls second-row Bateman – who has just returned to Wigan from Canberra – can be the next leaders of the national side.

“They are quality, world-class players and more than capable,” said Peacock, who made his England debut against Russia in the 2000 World Cup and won almost 50 international caps.

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“But for England to win it they will have to play the tournaments of their lives.

CUP CHALLENGE: Former England captain Jamie Peacock. Picture: Brett Phibbs/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com.CUP CHALLENGE: Former England captain Jamie Peacock. Picture: Brett Phibbs/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com.
CUP CHALLENGE: Former England captain Jamie Peacock. Picture: Brett Phibbs/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com.

“We’ll need the bigger names to really grab this World Cup by the scruff of the neck and make a difference.”

Peacock, who now works in Rhinos’ commercial department, added: “Alongside that, I do think the rules need to be changed on the international scene so the game is played the same as in Super League and the NRL.

At the moment, it suits the Pacific nations – it’s stop-start and suits their power game.

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“If it stays like that, it will bring some interesting challenges. I’m looking forward to it, though, and hopefully it should be a wonderful tournament.”

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