Senior support for England

Former England international Keith Senior believes Steve McNamara’s side should kick start their World Cup campaign this Saturday when they take on Ireland at a sold out John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield.
Senior played in the last meeting between the two sides back in 2000 when England fought back from 10-4 down in the first half to win 26-16 in the Quarter Final at Headingley Carnegie. However, the Ireland side that day included the likes of Great Britain internationals Barrie McDermott, Terry O’Connor and Brian Carney along with State of Origin players Luke Ricketson, Kevin Campion and David Barnhill. The current team, coached by Senior’s former Sheffield team mate Mark Aston, is mainly Super League players, including former Man of Steel Pat Richards, but also includes a handful of players from the Championship and Australia.
Looking back on the game 13 years ago, Senior recalls a tense first half. He commented, “I remember I scored the first try, Darren Rogers caught a bomb and passed it back to me to score in the corner. It was a good game with a lot of Leeds and ex-Leeds players in both teams and I remember personally it was great to play against my Leeds team mate.
“All the pressure was on us, there had been a lot of hype over the Irish side because the quality in their squad and we were feeling the pressure. There was tension, even though we scored first, because all the pressure was on us. The Irish had achieved what they wanted to out of the tournament by getting to the Quarter Final and had nothing to lose and we were expected to win.
“It was a great atmosphere, the fans really got behind us. No disrespect to the Irish this time around but they have not got the big names that were there in 2000. They got off to a poor start against Fiji earlier in the week, whereas they had been unbeaten in 2000. The Fiji game was probably a game they would have expected to win and Saturday is a big game for both but in theory you would expect England to come through with a convincing win,” added Senior.
Senior, who now works helps promote the sport to the next generation as part of the Leeds Rugby Foundation team, played in the 2000 and 2008 World Cups but he says he is enjoying watching this year’s tournament even more with a great buzz being generated around the early pool games. He added, “It has been great to hear about the sell out crowds. After a slow start earlier in the year, people were expecting low attendances but things have taken off since last Saturday and there have been some really big crowds especially outside of the heartlands.”
Senior is already looking forward to Headingley Carnegie’s World Cup bow in this year’s tournament next Friday when World Champions New Zealand take on Papua New Guinea in front of a bumper crowd. The record breaking centre added, “The Kiwis are either breath taking or give teams a chance to turn them over, which makes for a great contest. Papua New Guinea are massive strong men who put their bodies on the line, I think you can expect see a bit of blood flying around and some carnage, these are two very passionate sides who play with their heart so I can’t wait for it. Headingley Carnegie will be rocking I’m sure and it’s one not to miss.”