We’re not taking Samoa lightly – that’s the message from England coach and captain ahead of the opening Four Nations fixture tomorrow, with coach Steve McNamara insisting it’s the press calling Samoa underdogs, not the England camp.
The Samoans won a play-off against Tonga to get to the Four Nations, and with plenty of NRL and Super League experience in their camp, the England boss is under no illusions as to how tough a test it promises to be.
“We fully understand the quality of personnel in their group,” McNamara said. “Their players have been involved in finals and Grand Finals, they are a very talented team. I think it’s only the press that are saying Samoa are the underdogs.”
“They’ve got an ability to break tackles and run over teams so, defensively, we are going to have a real challenge on our hands.”
And England skipper James Graham agrees, having played against the bulk of their squad in the NRL this year whilst playing for Canterbury Bulldogs.
“If you look at their team, they are more than capable of winning each game in this tournament.
“They have a very strong pack and clinical finishers on the edges and they have a couple of decent halves, too, so we will have to be on our game.
“I can’t emphasise too much how tough this game will be.”