Rugby League World Cup: England put on a ‘queens performance’ in front of the Princess of Wales


Hosts: England Dates: From October 15 to November 19
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and online; Live commentary from Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; Live texts and highlights on the BBC Sport website and app

England needed to be at their best against Papua New Guinea, not only because a World Cup semi-final spot was at stake, but they also had their sights set on kings.

The Princess of Wales was filling in as RFL skipper after replacing Prince Harry in the role in February, and was a guest at Wigan’s match.

Before kick-off he rolled out the red carpet, met the two sets of players on the field, and then witnessed a display of imperial England in which the Papuans were rubbed out.

“I’m really happy,” said a stunned Shaun Wane afterwards, confirming he will remain in his role as England manager for another year beyond the World Cup.

“The first 30 minutes were faultless and PNG had no say in the game. When you look at the conditions, I was very impressed against a team you try to bend in the middle.

“The way they played and played is better than I thought, they have adapted quickly, training has been more honest than expected and they are good players who get things very quickly.

“Every day is a real pleasure.”

England ‘will not be underestimated now’

The Princess of Wales also met the England women’s team, who beat Canada on the day

From the first whistle, it was a performance full of attack and attacking intent, leaving PNG – who usually do the same with their opponents – without an answer.

Wane’s men ransacked the opposition and a relentless goal gave them a 38-0 half-time lead which effectively ended the contest.

Asked by BBC Sport whether the remaining teams in the competition will be taking performance into account, Wane replied: “Obviously they’ll see we’re winning.

“I really think we can improve. I know what we can do. We can play longer and better, we have to. We have to be more intense in training next week.”

At half-time, former England international Jon Wilkin said on BBC One: “In front of the Kings, England have produced a royal performance of the highest order.

“They’ve had tremendous power, speed and attention to detail and it all started with the intensity from the start of the game and England got it right.”

Former England captain Jamie Peacock added: “I think there’s real humility in that. There was no lost cause.

“There are times when England have been underestimated but that’s not going to happen now.

“You can see it in Shaun Wane’s eyes [that he is smiling on the inside]. It should be so. If they play those first 40 minutes, they will enter against any team in the world 12 or 18 points higher.”

Papua New Guinea coach Stanley Tepend called England “the best side they’ve faced”, while captain Rhyse Martin suggested they “can go all the way”.

“I want to be a World Cup winner”

England have never won the World Cup, losing in all three finals, losing 6-0 to Australia in 2017.

But this team display will give them plenty of confidence as they aim to lift the trophy on home soil at Old Trafford on November 19.

The showdown is likely to be against Australia or 2008 champions New Zealand, but before that, there is a semi-final against Tonga or Samoa at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on November 12.

Winger Tommy Makinson, who has won four consecutive Grand Finals with club side St Helens, made history by becoming the first England player to score five tries in a single game.

“It’s a special achievement but going to London in a semi-final will be even bigger and I can’t wait,” Makinson said.

“We want to be like Clive [Sullivan – Great Britain’s World Cup-winning captain in 1972] and they achieved something special as men. It’s nice to score five tries, but I want to be a World Cup winner and that’s what we’re working on.”

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