England have the X-factor to make a success of the World Cup, according to Sam Burgess.
The dual-code international was in the England team that lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals four years ago and was captain of the side that, despite having home advantage, failed to reach the final of the 2016 Four Nations Series.
However, the South Sydney forward says preparations are going well and he believes Wayne Bennett’s men are well equipped to go one better than Steve McNamara’s class of 2013.
“We’re four years farther down the track,” Burgess told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I had a little look through the squad and I see what we’ve got now and, no disrespect to the squad we had then, but we’ve got a little bit more X-factor, a little bit more solidarity within the team.
“It’s been together for 18 months and the similar 17, maybe 19 players have been used. The combinations are a bit tighter and the camaraderie is great.
“We’ve got a really good chance over the next six weeks. But it’s down to how hard you work when it gets hard on the field. Games can be won in the last few seconds and that’s what it takes at this level, to concentrate right up until the final whistle.
“The mood is great. We’ve had a great week and a half over in Perth and now we’re in Melbourne. The boys are relaxed and trained extremely hard. We’ve prepared really well. We’re looking forward to it.”
He added: “It’s going to be a great start to the World Cup on Friday, it’ll be a physical game. We’re more than ready.”
Meanwhile, Burgess hit back at claims by former Rugby Football Union director of professional rugby Rob Andrew that his selection by then coach Stuart Lancaster for the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup was an “almighty blunder”.
Burgess, who returned to rugby league after being made a scapegoat for England’s failure to reach the quarter-finals, said: “Rob wasn’t really around the camp, Rob didn’t see the work I put in, Rob didn’t see how I contributed to the squad. Rob’s sitting from – in my opinion – an outsider’s view.
“I do disagree with him and I’m sure there are people out there who do know what happened, who understand what went down, how hard the training was, how hard I worked to get in that squad.
“I’m very proud of my performance for England and what I contributed to the team. Unfortunately results didn’t go as we planned at that team but Rob’s entitled to his opinion. He’s trying to sell his book.”