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Phew...! A win is a win but despite England being poor, it was a great test match. Samoa were phenenomal in both attack and defence and if that wasn't an example why these nations need to play more international rugby league against the big boys, I don't know what is...
Some positives for us were our halves who interacted well when given the opportunity and both kicked very very well. I thought Clark and Hodgson had good debuts plus our right edge defence with Watkins was very good. Our forwards however, need to massively improve next week, especially in their intensity in defence where the line speed and aggression was non-existent.
We'll be better next week and desperately hope O'Loughlin is back as we need him.
6 months is nowhere near long enough; these events need to be planned 2/3yrs in advanced including potential venues to give supporters a chance of saving, buying flights, tickets etc. I am case in support of this and could have organised my trip to NZ next month around the 4 nations if given enough time to do so. It's this lack of direction,thought and most importantly governance which needs to change if we are to develop the game internationally into its true potential.
The Cunningham of the 1996/97 era was probably the best hooker I have ever seen play the game. I'd argue Cameron Smith has been better across the duration of his whole playing career but never seen a hooker as good as Cunningham in the UK.
Should add that Buduerus was quality as well... the named three are the best I have seen.
For England and NZ it comes down to maintaining possession and completing sets. That is where Australia are in another stratosphere to the others.
It is as simple as that. Both England and NZ need to develop this ruthlessness as on the back of this, Australia build pressure and eventually dismantle us. England certainly have an inability to perform at these high levels for 80mins and until we develop that ruthlessness, we'll also fall short. Looking forward to see if we can develop those high standards in this tournament; if we do, we have a real chance.
Entirely up to Wellens and the club but from my point of view, this season would be the perfect point to call time on a wonderful career having finally banished the demons Wellens clearly stated he had at OT.
I lived there for a year in 2003 - brilliant city! Plenty of suggestions already but I really like Montjuic where the 1992 Olympics took place. Tibidabo (the hill to the west!) gives some awesome views of the whole city on a clear day. As for WR's suggestions about Catalan phrases (spelt phonetically):
Bon dia - Good day
Bona tarda - Good afternoon
Bona neet - Good night
Gracies - Thank you (same as spanish but pronounce the 'c' like a 'c' and not 'th' if that makes sense?)
Sees Plau - Please
A-day-oo - Bye
Ho sento, no habs Catala - I am sorry, I don't speak Catalan
They will still play the kiwis in the final. Whether they will win it is debatable as you would guess the kiwis should have a better chance with so many Aussies missing. If the Aussies do actually win it though with this very under strength squad it doesn't say much for the rest of the 4 nation teams does it?
England are up against it just as we would be with a full strength Australian side. We never travel well (or haven't for a long time!) to the Southern hemisphere so it is up to this group of players (who are very talented) to step up to the plate and beat both the Aussies and Kiwis. It is going to take that for Australia to start taking the international game seriously.
But we ourselves mustn't forget that whils this isn't a full strength Australian side, the sheer depth they can call upon is far greater than ours so they will still be strong as you correctly highlight. They will still have Inglis, Cronk and Smith at the heart of their spine. So it is up to England, New Zealand and Samoa to step up to the plate and knock the Aussies off their perch. There should be no excuses from us if we don't - we need to step up to and perform to our potential by giving the Aussies an almightly game in Melbourne!
Watching the video between 1min 15secs and 1min 20 secs seems to highlight to me (and I am sure others) that Hohaia wasn't uncermonously dumped by Flower but smacked from behind in the head, which again can be intepreted as an attempt to cause serious damage.
Both players were in the wrong and will be banned for it. Flower will get the far bigger ban for his disgraceful second punch.