England were ‘confident and backed ourselves’ says Kallum Watkins

Kallum Watkins says England knew the magnitude of their World Cup opener against Samoa and came into the game full of confidence.

England shot out of the blocks in Newcastle and bashed Samoa 60-6 in a 10-try thrashing.

“We knew the magnitude of the game,” Watkins said.

“Coming to Newcastle too, it was always going to be a good atmosphere and we took the opportunity with both hands. We were confident in how we prepared and we just backed ourselves.

“But we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground, it’s the start of the tournament and we’ll be building momentum as we go. Challenges will get tougher as we go each week.”

Watkins said all the pre-World Cup hype about Samoa and Tonga “probably helped” England.

“It turned the pressure down on us and put a bit on them to perform,” he said.

“It didn’t annoy me; I was just grateful to be involved in the squad. These things happen and with the layers they’ve got, wow. They’re an incredible team.

“Suaali’i was incredible when he had the ball in hand and he was a prime example of a player we had to deal with really well.

“But they’re also a team that hadn’t played together before and that showed at times. That’s probably the same with us, but with the mix we’ve got, we’re used to playing alongside each other, especially the experienced guys.

“We know what it takes in these competitions to go out there and play well.”

The Salford centre scored a try and was impressive at St James’ Park.

“For me, it’s about doing the hard graft, especially with those tough carries at our end and playing in the back row has helped me in terms of those,” Watkins said.

“I’m a little stronger in them and hopefully that helps the team get forward. Dom’s an exceptional player and it was an absolute pleasure playing alongside him for a couple of weeks.

“He scored a special try in his proper debut at a World Cup. It can’t get better than that.”

Watkins believes England’s blend of veterans and youngsters served them well against Toa Samoa.

“It was an amazing result,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, especially in that first half. Samoa are a good side but we’ve got a good mix of youth and experience in our team and it showed.

“The six against in two games probably gives me more pleasure. Holding them to only six points was a massive thing for us. Our defence has been pretty good and we’ve worked hard in terms of possession of the ball.

“That’s making sure we’re patient with what we’re doing and taking opportunities when they come. Jack Welsby and George Williams were fantastic in taking theirs and we worked off the back of it, trying to work as hard as we can. In that second half, all the momentum was with us.”

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