Shaun Wane demands talk to turn to England in World Cup build-up

Shaun Wane hopes the focus is now on the home nation as England prepare for the opening match of the World Cup.

The game at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) sees England face a much-fancied Samoa squad packed with NRL stars.

Samoa, alongside Tonga and usual suspects Australia and New Zealand, have received plenty of backing to do well at this World Cup, while England are as low as fifth-favourites to win the tournament among some bookmakers.

But Wane said that after an impressive 50-0 win over Fiji in last Friday’s warm-up clash, England should be spoken about more as well.

“There’s been a lot of talk of every other nation,” he said.

“I’m just glad we’ve gone out there, performed and people have seen a glimpse of what we can do. 

“I know we’ll have massive challenges in this tournament. I know the qualities of the other countries and what we’re up against. 

“But I’m glad people can see we’ve got a team as well. Hopefully people will talk about us now.

“I hope it’s reaffirmed with everybody (how good a team England are). I didn’t need it reaffirming; I know we’re a strong team. 

“I know how strong Samoa are. They’ve a really strong squad, no question about that. 

“But I’m very proud of my players; we’re proud Englishman and I’m really looking forward to a set-to on Saturday.

“I’m expecting a really physical start to the game against a team far bigger than us. We need to start quick. 

“We have things in our game which hopefully we can exploit with Samoa, and they’ll say the same about us as well. 

“It’s going to be full on, it’ll be a proper Test match where we have to win and they have to win. It’s got the making of a fantastic game.”

The Fiji display, despite the absence of captain Sam Tomkins and most of the squad players who featured in the Super League Grand Final a fortnight earlier, has given Wane plenty of food for thought in terms of selection.

The only member of the 24-man squad who won’t be available for the Samoa clash is the suspended John Bateman.

Wane said of his team selection: “I’ve got an idea. I need to sit down with Lasty (Andy Last, assistant coach) and go through the (Fiji) game but I’ve got an idea. 

“We’ll be strong next week. I’m looking forward to making tough choices and having tough conversations. I picked 24 players and they understand they can’t all play.”

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