Rugby League World Cup: Former footballer Stuart Pearce inspires England ahead of Greece game

Wane has been in charge of England since leaving Wigan Warriors in 2020
The date: October 29, Saturday kick off: 14:30 BST Place: Bramall Lane, Sheffield
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England manager Shaun Wane has brought in former footballer Stuart Pearce to inspire his players ahead of their game against Greece on Saturday.

Pearce, 60, who won 78 caps for England, spoke to the squad at Wigan’s Robin Park.

The hosts will be hoping to round out the group stage with a 100% record after Bramall Lane. beat Samoa and France.

“Stuart is a very passionate English visionary,” said Wane.

“We learned a lot from him. He introduced himself to the team this morning and he was very good. He spoke very well about the camp and how we did our session.

“We’re going to have other people coming in – it’s important that the players experience that. There are other ways of learning that will make us better in rugby league. Listening to legends like him was really important.”

Pearce is best known for scoring a penalty against Spain at the 1996 European Championships, six years after missing out on a place in the semi-finals against Germany at the World Cup in Italy.

He was England Under-21 manager from 2007-2013, in 2012 he also managed England and West Ham United and Nottingham Forest.

Wane’s England are in a commanding position, seemingly hitting their stride with 102 points from two matches, and the manager has also been in touch with England men’s football coach Gareth Southgate.

“I spoke to Gareth via text this morning and invited him to the games, and we’ve got other people coming in and going to present the jerseys,” he said.

Captain Tomkins laid down to rest

Changes will be made this weekend, with captain and full-back Sam Tomkins rested and George Williams to take the arm for the warm-up clash with Fiji.

Canberra forward Elliott Whitehead will be replaced by St Helens second-row Joe Batchelor, who is set to make his debut, while Kai Pearce-Paul will come in for Kallum Watkins due to concussion protocol.

Wane wants to give all his squad members time as he searches for his best line-up ahead of the final stages of the competition.

“The team will be slightly different, but the intention will be the same,” he said. “There are 24 of us in the team and I have to see them all.

“I want everyone fit, ready and hungry. It’s vital that everyone plays and I want to be fair. It’s the right thing to do. I want everyone to play.

“This game will go a long way in forming my team. I want to make a choice among 24 players. I want the decision to get to 17 to be very difficult.”

Despite heavy favorites against Greece, who have lost both games so far, Wane insists England will not be taking them lightly.

“We’ve done the same previews as we did for Samoa and France,” he said. “We will show them the respect they deserve.”

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