JAMIE JONES-BUCHANAN doesn’t expect Lebanon to pose England any serious problems in tomorrow’s World Cup game – but the Leeds Rhinos star insists Wayne Bennett’s side must still continue enhancing their own game to prosper later.
After losing their opener 18-4 against champions Australia last week, England are fully expected to pick up their first tournament win against the massive underdogs in Sydney.
The current Lebanon squad includes some NRL players, among them ex-New South Wales State of Origin hooker Robbie Farah and emerging star Mitchell Moses, but mainly part-time operators.
Admittedly, they secured their first-ever World Cup win with a shock 29-18 victory over France last week but England should comfortably ease home.
Leeds second-row Jones-Buchanan, who toured Down Under when representing England in the 2008 World Cup, said: “Lebanon have a couple of decent players but I honestly don’t think they’ll be a threat.
“They might throw up some potential banana skins and England can’t just turn up thinking they’ll win regardless.
“England have to perform and win with some methodology so that, come Monday morning, they can sit down and see how they have really improved on that Australia display.
“That performance against the Aussies was encouraging. They showed enough signs there that if they were to meet them again in the final they could have what it takes to overcome them.
“Beating Australia twice back-to-back is a really, really big ask and if you are going to beat them once, everyone knows the best time to do that is in a final.”
Jones-Buchanan hopes to see his Leeds colleagues, winger Ryan Hall and centre Kallum Watkins, get more clear-cut attacking options against the Lebanese who have a community of around 200,000 living in the Sydney suburbs, many of whom are avid rugby league fans.
“Our outside backs went really well against the Aussies, both Jermaine McGillvary and Hally,” said the 36-year-old.
“But my only sort of gripe is I’d like to see them get more ball.
“McGillvary had a lot of joy off Gareth Widdop’s cut-out pass but I’d like to see Kal get the ball early and do his own thing to put Jermaine McGillvary away.
“John Bateman’s in the other centre. He’d be in my England team but in the second-row where he can really get to grips with the Aussies.
“I’d have an out-and-out centre in there who might be able to get Hally some more service, too. But most importantly against Lebanon we have to be great with our kicking game.
“That had a massive impact on how the game-management went last week; the Aussies kicked us to death.”
With Gareth Ellis, Jamie Peacock, Jon Wilkin, Gareth Hock, Ben Westwood and Jamie Langley all competing, seven-time Grand Final winner Jones-Buchanan had limited game-time in the 2008 World Cup.
Struggling England failed to reach the final but he said: “It was still a great experience.
“We enjoyed some brilliant stuff out there. The boys now should really relish that and the honour it is to represent their country. I only played 45 minutes against New Zealand but that 45 minutes got me my Lions heritage number, one of my greatest achievements.”