England captain George Williams driven by World Cup pain ahead of Tonga series

GEORGE WILLIAMS is confident that the England squad will have the cattle to overcome a strong Tongan side in next month’s Test series. 

Nearly twelve months on, the 28-year-old admits he is looking forward to stringing together some strong performances next month, in a bid to make up for their disappointing exit from the World Cup against Samoa last year.

“That’s the hardest I’ve ever taken a loss,” said Williams.

“Usually I’m pretty good at switching off.

“I know you might not think that’s too long but every day, thinking about a game is torture really when you don’t get the right outcome.

“I think that’s a lesson learnt for us as a group. We were probably one of the form teams at the World Cup but in the big game, where it mattered, we weren’t where we needed to be.

“We learnt that you can’t have any days off in international rugby.”

England started the tournament off with a bang, thrashing Samoa 60-6 and they looked a threat as the tournament progressed. 

Williams wonders whether the squad became complacent during the tournament. 

“I think everything we did, apart from that last game was perfect, we prepped well, we did everything we could, we performed well,” he said. 

“I don’t want to say complacent but when you beat a team by 60 points, your mentality maybe shifts a little bit.

“A bit of complacency crept in and we didn’t deliver when it mattered.”

The last time English players played Tonga was a part of the Tonga Invitational upset of the Great Britain Lions at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, back in 2019.

Prior to that England had narrowly beaten Tonga 20-18 at Mt. Smart Stadium, Auckland in the 2017 World Cup semi-final. 

Williams admits that Tonga have come a long way since that historic win. 

“They’ve got players that are playing in the halves, playing in the outside backs that have got a lot more flow to their game,” he said. 

“They’re becoming the full package. But that’s something we look forward to and it’s a challenge for us.

“They beat Australia in 2019 and we saw what Samoa did in the World Cup. 

“The more nations we can get around the game – and I’m really buzzing about the calendar going forward for England – obviously we’ve got Tonga, hopefully Samoa next year and Australia the year after and then we’ve got the World Cup the year after that.

“It’s stacked and we know what we’re doing, so we can build and you’ve got to be playing against the best nations if you want to win the World Cup.”