Josh Hodgson and John Bateman must step up if England are to lift World Cup – Jamie Peacock
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“But for England to win it they will have to play the tournaments of their lives.
“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.
“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.”
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click HERE to subscribe.