ENGLAND ARE making progress, but need to get the basics right.
That’s Leeds Rhinos centre Kallum Watkins’ assessment following the national team’s latest disappointment.
England bowed out of the Ladbrokes Four Nations with a 36-18 defeat to Australia two days ago.
That means, for the third successive major tournament, Australia will face New Zealand in the final, but Watkins feels there were positives to take from England’s first campaign under coach Wayne Bennett.
“It’s just the simple things we need to do,” said the Leeds man, who hopes to be part of the England squad for the 2017 World Cup.
“What they [Australia and New Zealand] are doing is punishing our errors.
“There’s no lack of effort or desire or knowing what we need to do to win, but we need to put that on the field for 80 minutes.”
Watkins admitted England learned some tough lessons in their losses to New Zealand and Australia.
“If you make an error or there’s a bit of ill discipline they make you pay for that,” he said.
“Australia are the best at punishing teams. I don’t think we are too far away.
“The little things we need to fix up are going to help us and help our game to progress.”
He added: “We have got to continue. Next year is a big one for a lot of these players to perform, throughout the season.
“It is important to do that. The boys are disappointed with the result, but we have got to move on.
“We’ve got to rest up now and try and get ourselves ready for next year.”
England led twice against Australia at London Stadium and trailed by only four points behind at half-time, but were overpowered in the final 40 minutes.
“We’re disappointed,” Watkins added. “I thought in the first half we were very, very good, we matched them very well, but we gave too many penalties away and there were too many opportunities when we should have applied a bit more pressure on them.
“I think that was the difference in the end. They gathered a lot of momentum in the second half.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit for punishing our mistakes, but we beat ourselves a bit.”
Watkins was ever-present for Leeds and England in 2016, playing every minute of his 36 matches.
“I’m going to get a holiday now with my wife and little son,” he said. “I think we’ll have to come in [at Leeds] just before Christmas to check in with the physios and do a bit of testing, but in terms of getting back full-time I think that’ll be in the new year.
“It’ll be nice to get a break to refresh and work on the things I need to improve coming up to the new season.
“It has been a long, hard year for myself, but that’s how it is.
“I want to get better next year, the big thing now is to improve massively – and I am going to do everything I possibly can to do that.”