I couldn’t believe it when I got the text saying that England had lost to Italy!
Due to a prior engagement I couldn’t get to the game at Salford, but I intended to record it and watch it later.
So I was naturally disappointed to find out that it wasn’t televised. That it wasn’t on any channel is a poor state of affairs and the RFL needs to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
The irony is, of course, that it’s probably a good thing it wasn’t televised, given the result. By all accounts, the poor England performance and the sheer number of handling errors might have put people off the game for life! But back to the game itself. What does it tell us about England’s World Cup chances?
On the face of it, things don’t look good!
The result may have reminded people of the Burleigh Bears fiasco in 1999, a terrible performance from which Great Britain never recovered as they went on to get hammered by Australia and New Zealand in the Tri-Nations that year.
And in 1990 I was part of a terrible performance which saw us lose to Papua New Guinea. But we recovered fantastically to beat New Zealand in a great Test series.
So, as history shows, it can still go either way from here. As England look to get off the canvas, will they replicate 1990 or 1999? Unfortunately I think it will probably be the latter.
I have said many times that we have an excellent pack of forwards and some good outside backs, but we don’t have the halfbacks nor the general x-factor to have a serious chance of winning the World Cup.
And I think that Sonny Bill Williams’ inclusion in the Kiwi side will galvanise them enough to beat us in the semi-final.
It pains me to say it, and I desperately hope I’m wrong, but I think it will be an Australia v New Zealand final.
I am, however, really looking forward to going to Cardiff’s opener this weekend, and would absolutely love to see an England win.
If that happens then we should make the final, as it will give us the easier semi-final if everything else goes to form.
The Aussies don’t always start competitions with a win – in fact on plenty of occasions they’ve failed to do that – so fingers crossed we can catch them cold.
But for that to happen it will have to be the biggest seven-day reversal in form in the history of the game. I just can’t see it happening, because we’re not good enough to beat this Australian team.
I’m also planning on going up to Workington for Scotland’s first World Cup game against Tonga.
It’s fantastic that tickets are selling so well for the two games at Derwent Park, and I’m sure that Italy’s result against England will have plenty more people wanting to see them in action.
So hopefully we’ll see a couple of sell-outs at Workington. Having played there in front of big crowds with Leeds, it is a fabulously atmospheric ground and their support will be worth at least a six-point start for Scotland.
I think this group is shaping up to be the most competitive. It’s virtually impossible to call these games.
And I can’t wait to get stuck into Premier Sports fantastic coverage of the World Cup, which will see every game of the competition televised, a far cry from previous tournaments in this country.
We are in for a fantastic five weeks of Rugby League and, as I said last week, if you have a chance of getting to a game then get your tickets ordered straightaway.
And, finally, best of luck to all of the players and most of all to the home-nations sides.
I can’t reveal too much at the moment, because a lot of the details haven’t been confirmed but it looks like that there could be a return of a Rugby League roadshow around amateur clubs.
Hopefully it will be in place by the start of next season, and I’ll bring you more details when I can.
First published in League Express, Monday 21st October 2013
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