Bobbie Goulding: England blew their best chance

Former Great Britain half-back Bobbie Goulding believes England threw away their “best chance of winning a trophy in a long time” when they were dumped out of the Four Nations by New Zealand on Saturday.

The 42-year-old thinks Steve McNamara’s men stuck to their structure too rigidly at times and also questioned leaving out Warrington utility Stefan Ratchford for all three matches.

He told the Manchester Evening News: ‘‘You have to play to a structure but you have got to come out of it in parts especially when you are needing to win by 10 points.

‘‘There comes a time in a game of this kind when you simply have to play it as you see it. England only really did this on the very last play and by then of course, it was all too late.

‘‘It was frustrating watching the New Zealand game unfold because I really did think this was England’s best chance of winning a trophy in along time.


‘‘It is not all doom and gloom but maybe a few changes are needed from top to bottom.

‘‘I would have liked to have seen Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford involved. He can play in a variety of roles and he could have been the man to spark things when we needed something a bit different.

‘‘The Aussies, the Kiwis and the Samoans have all shown a willingness to move the ball about. We could also have done with a player in the Rob Burrow mould to give the opposition something different to think about.

‘‘England has two fine leaders in Sean O’Loughlin and James Graham but England were only in it when Daryl Clark was on the field. The Kiwis in contrast had Leuluai and Luke operating.

‘‘We were not the same when Clark was off and this was another key factor in the game. We did a lot of right and we have shown what we are all about but it’s surprising what a difference flair can do.

‘‘Matty Smith at scrum half is possibly the best in super League under the structures he plays to at Wigan with big forwards going forward all the time.

‘‘Matty is great with those structure but I would like to see him taking the line on far more. He did a couple of times and he had me on the edge of my seat.

‘‘If a player like Matty is going to be at seven, you need a six in the Danny McGuire mould.


‘‘In the past, players like Tommy Martyn, Jonathan Davies and Iestyn Harris were suited for this role. They were all natural footballers who came off their feet and made things happen.

‘‘They could change the course of a game by playing it as they saw it. We knew we had to win by 10 and needed to come out of the structure much more than we did.

‘‘I would have considered playing Sam Tomkins either at hooker or at six with Zak Hardaker at full back. The key is adding variation.

‘‘I really do think it would have been to England’s advantage to have Ratchford involved. He is he is a talented player I rate highly. He has had a good season and not only does he have pace, he is also elusive.

‘‘The game against New Zealand ended up being won and lost around the ruck. We had chances and we were competitive but we have again fallen short and that is disappointing.’’