It may be less important in some sports, but the tribalistic nature of rugby league – especially at international level – makes home advantage huge. Australians and New Zealanders often speak about the atmospheres in this country – England fans will do their very best, starting this Saturday in Huddersfield, to literally be the 18th man. It could be the difference.
The master-coach takes charge of his first game in the Four Nations with England on Saturday – and his appointment at the start of this year still looks an inspired one. His side looked ruthless and tough to crack during the win in Avignon on Friday, and some Bennett-esque hallmarks are already starting to show.
The unknown quantity element of the side
The Kangaroos and Kiwis will be all too aware of the likes of Josh Hodgson, Sam Burgess and James Graham – but their teams haven’t played against a few of England’s key players. Luke Gale and Jonny Lomax, to name only two, could yet surprise a few people in the Four Nations: perhaps they will include the opposition players over the next month.
Their hooking duo
The tactical make-up of all four sides look different on paper – and England’s strength is undoubtedly in their ability to rotate two simply sensational hookers. Josh Hodgson is well-known to fans all across the world, and if Daryl Clark brings his club form from 2016 into the Four Nations, England have a deadly duo to be feared.
Who else? Slammin’ Sam returns to international rugby league in Saturday’s Four Nations opener against New Zealand – and if he plays how he finished the year at club level with South Sydney, England are about to get a player back who is nearing his best once again. Uncompromising, ruthless and supremely talented – expect the captain to not only lead by example, but also be the difference when it matters.