Mike Cooper issues rallying call for fans to support England at the Emirates

MIKE COOPER has called on English people to get behind the England team and pack out the Emirates for the World Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The hosts are just one more victory away from a place in the final after battering Papua New Guinea 44-4.

England will now face Samoa in the final four and Cooper is keen for a huge crowd at the home of Arsenal FC.

“Get behind us,” the prop said. 

“We’re proud Englishmen and 100 per cent want to do the best we can. So hopefully we’ll get as many people down in London as possible and the louder the better. It definitely helps us and definitely spurs us on.

“We’re confident in our own ability. It’ll be a special occasion going down there and we’re going to be together now pretty much in camp with no break, so we’ll get closer together as a team. 

“And we can perform a lot better. In the second half we were sloppy at times and even at the back end of the first half we went away from some things. We can be a lot better than what we dished up.

England bullied the Kumuls at the DW Stadium, with the match seemingly over at half-time.

“The boys in the starting line-up started really well and it set a platform for the game,” Cooper said.

“We were just relentless. Everything we stand for as a team, we were just tough, hard-working and we put it on. Ruthless – that’s what we’re about. We are so proud to play for our country. 

“Everyone can see how much it means to us. Credit to PNG. They didn’t stop trying all the way through. But we were just too much for them today.”

Cooper has played well throughout the tournament and the frontrower hopes his performances have silenced some of his critics.

“I hope so. I don’t really think about that or take on board what people say,” he said. 

“It’s what the coach thinks that matters and your team-mates. There’s a couple of old boys in  the team who have been around a long time but if people are questioning it, hopefully it’s answered now.”

The forward admitted he didn’t think he would be playing in the World Cup after making a shock switch from Warrington to Wigan mid-season, but revealed he has been in regular communication with coach Shaun Wane. 

“I just wanted to move over here and first of all make sure I was playing,” he said.

“That was the main thing. This is my first World Cup. To get an opportunity to be part of a World Cup and part of this team and this group of staff is special. We are building something.

“I speak to Waney quite a lot. We were in regular conversation, whether on Zoom or on the phone, and were getting clips with stuff to work on, so we were in regular communication. 

“He’s a great leader. We can all see that with how well we’re playing and how together we are as a team. I don’t think anyone has done that to PNG, have they?”

Cooper believes England will be hard to beat at this point.

“This is the tightest group I’ve ever experienced in terms of player and coach relationships; it’s so tight and I have 100 percent trust in everybody,” he said. 

“We’re working hard for each other. We have some values we’re sticking by and working towards and I think each week we’re showing that. We’re going to be hard to beat.”

Cooper is unfazed about the prospect of facing an improved Samoa at the Emirates.

“Yes, they have improved but I think we have as well,” he said. 

“We’re not fussed either. It’s just about us. That’s all we’re focused on. Each week we focus on ourselves. Our defence, Our attack. If you worry too much about anything else you get caught up in it.”