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Inexperienced referee hurts England

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George Riley George Riley | 15:45 UK time, Sunday, 6 November 2011

Had there been an experienced referee in charge at Wembley on Saturday then Australia may well have still beaten England but at least Steve McNamara's men would have felt they had a fighting chance.

There was both pride and frustration at the full-time hooter. Pride in England's excellent effort against the tournament favourites, pride in seeing international rugby league back at Wembley for the first time in 14 years and pride in seeing a thrilling spectacle played out live on the BBC on a Saturday afternoon.

The frustration for England came from being dealt a really bad hand by New Zealand official Henry Perenara, who was officiating only his second Test.

It's not good when officials are blamed for results. You see and hear it from football managers every weekend in the Premier League and you just laugh it off as heat of the moment sour grapes from the defeated party.


 England team hit out at New Zealand referee Henry Perenara after he fails to send off Australia's Tony Williams for flattening Ben Westwood and also denying Tom Briscoe a try. PHOTO: Getty

Australia may still have proved too strong over 80 minutes, yet had Perenara sent off Tony Williams for a brutal high shot on Ben Westwood and not wrongly ruled out a Tom Briscoe score when England were in the ascendancy seconds later, the home side just may have had a shot at a famous victory.

We will never know but you can understand why McNamara was enraged by the refereeing decisions and clearly questions need to be asked as to why Perenara was picked.

Was Williams's high shot that much different to Adrian Morley's on Robbie Kearns that famously saw Morley dismissed just 12 seconds into the 2003 international series?

Why on earth not use the video referee to adjudge on the Briscoe “double movement” if you have the technology available?

Enough about that, let's instead focus on what we learned from Saturday.

I stated in the tournament preview blog that England can compete with and beat Australia and New Zealand on any given day and that was proved at Wembley, regardless of the outcome.

Indeed, this was the closest England have got to Australia on the scoreboard for a couple of years. The question was whether they can do it two, or three weeks in a row.

We are set to find that out as England and the Kiwis go toe to toe at the KC Stadium in Hull next weekend for the right to have another crack at Australia in the Elland Road final.

Sam Tomkins proved his brilliance with some sensational handling, especially with his magic Harlem Globetrotters offload to send Ryan Hall away for his second score. Funnily enough, star-man Tomkins wasn't booed by his own fans this time either.

Hall himself showed he is becoming one of the best finishers in the game. Rangi Chase and Kevin Sinfield again looked a surprisingly good half-back pairing, although a few errant moments from the former may place question marks over his inclusion.

The powerful front row built around the buzzing ruck play of James Roby continues to give England real go forward. I like the options off the bench too, although would prefer to see Gaz Widdop used much more. And the more that newcomers like Jack Reed, Chris Heighington and Chase play, the stronger this improving England unit is going to become.

That has to bode well for the 2013 World Cup work in progress.

Injuries may force McNamara's hand at the KC Stadium however, with James Graham and Gareth Ellis both going off against Australia, while warhorse captain Jamie Peacock is playing through the pain of a knee injury.

Such circumstances will really tell us how good an England squad this is, whether we have the strength in depth to compete with the southern-hemisphere superpowers.

With the outstanding Billy Slater seeing his tournament curtailed by a broken collarbone, Australia will have to reshuffle too.

But there were other negatives. As effervescent as Chase is with ball in hand, there are doubts over his defensive capabilities.

He and Heighington were both embarrassed for Williams's bulldozing score and Chase threw an intercept pass later on which led to Darius Boyd crossing for the Aussies.

Reed was caught napping for Greg Inglis's score but he made up for that with a fine touchdown of his own, while Sinfield was uncharacteristically below-par with his kicking.

We have to admit there remains a gulf between England and our antipodean friends. Of the Four Nations, we are number three but on home soil we can compete.

The Wembley experiment also showed there is still an appetite for our game.

The 43,000 inside the gigantic arena may not have looked hugely impressive via some television camera angles but the games they saw should be enough for every one of those fans to want to return to more.

Iestyn Harris's Wales produced a real fight too to prevent the predicted New Zealand juggernaut running riot after half-time. Seeing Lee Briers take on the Kiwis on the big stage with an even bigger smile was uplifting too.

The Welsh were not as out of their depth as many feared – and actually got closer to New Zealand than they did to England last week.

Next weekend will be telling. Wales will need another huge effort to try to tame Australia, who await the winners of England and New Zealand in the final. England have to, as Jamie Peacock puts it, "lick our wounds and bounce back against the Kiwis".


  • Comment number 1.

    I went to Wembley and it was a terrific day out. I was also pleased to hear a lot of southern English accents (along with Kiwi, Aussie and Welsh!). There were people at that game from all over the country and as a group of fans, albeit 43,000 of us or thereabouts, we created a great atmosphere.

    I was very impressed by Wales. Given their high number of part-time players, their lack of experience in that level of game or at the big arenas, they were wonderful, especially to keep the Kiwis to only two tries in the second half. It was a real shame they didn't pull off their two crosses of the line in the first half but their nerves or lack of experience showed there, which was a shame. The crowd were willing them to score! They also had two injuries in the first half and so their achievements in the second were outstanding, especially some of the hits they put in. I hope as a group they will take great encouragement from their performance, which improved on their previous week's, even though they just fell short of registering some points. I will be supporting them at Wrexham next weekend!

    As for England, we got off to a terrific start. If we had played like that for the full 80 minutes then we would have beaten Australia. Alas, as always, we didn't! We can blame mistakes - which we always make - or the ref - who made at least two shocking decisions - or indeed the alignment of the moon, it doesn't matter to the fans. Once again we lost. Until we beat the Australians then the fans won't turn up in their biggest numbers and we will always be making excuses. There was some shocking defence on display and some terrible errors by Rangi Chase in particular. We also didn't respect the ball enough, allowing the Aussies a way back into the game. We definitely rattled the Australians but it is no good doing that and then falling off defensively or players not being aware that the ball might actually be passed to them and so they need to be alert at all times. Our attitude isn't right. It needs to be. England could learn from Wales in that respect.

  • Comment number 2.

    It seems bizarre that the vast majority of times time England play Australia in any code of Rugby there is a southern hemisphere referree appointed to officiate. Aussies dont care whether they beat the Poms by fair means or foul, so why do we continue to allow this to happen?
    I would suggest the next time we play the Australians at Rugby (both League and Union) we should have a ref from the Isle of Man, Guernsey or perhaps the Isle of Dogs. From the recent appointment of Henry Perenara they dont even need to have experience or even a basic knowledge of the rules.

  • Comment number 3.

    Lets hear some praise for the RL for taking the game to Wembley, both games were a great advert, although the second was obviously the best.

    The game and skills on show showed the RU world cup up as a bored fest by comparison, I was shouting at the tv all through the game!!!

    At long last international RL is back up and running.

  • Comment number 4.

    No mention anywhere of Westwood's unpunished consistent foul play in the tackle... Not calling for video help for the disallowed try was a bad decision but the whinging goes beyond a joke when certain circles start blaming Sheens for putting pressure on the ref

  • Comment number 5.

    @ 4 You obviously missed the 3 tries the Aussies scored from penalties conceded by the unpunished Westwood

  • Comment number 6.

    @3 I dont want this to descend into a Union v League "debate" but personally (as a Union player/fan) I found the league game yesterday very stop/start with no real flow. They may as well get rid of the scrum and restart with a "snap" and perhaps reduce the number of tackles to.. four perhaps ;) but I also genuinely watched and enjoyed the game FOR WHAT IT WAS.

    Union is still the game for all shapes/sizes, a team with a good pack can overpower a team with good backs but you want both to be a top side. Just because a game is forward based doesnt make it a "bored fest" (I assume you meant "Bore").

    How the australian stayed on the field is a mystery though...

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry, onion sends me to sleep. The fact is the Aussie should have gone. The fact is the Briscoe try should have stood. The fact is Sheens attack on the ref after match one added to this ref constantly punishing England for something then allowing the Aussies to do the same unpunished seem to be too much of a coincidence.

  • Comment number 8.

    @6 I also enjoyed the RWC final for WHAT IT WAS, i.e. A total anti-climax. Union needs to speed up. Maybe get rid of the rucks which are just stylized play-the-balls and introduce a six tackle rule. Then it would be awesome!!! BTW yesterday's game was a great advert for RL.

  • Comment number 9.

    @6 I love it when union followers complain that league is stop-start. I suppose the interminable re-setting of scrums and the unwatchable morass that is the breakdown just add to the free-flowing nature of their code ;-p

    Back on topic, England did OK yesterday, nothing more. The threequarters looked competitive, except for Yeaman, who appeared a bit out of his depth. There will obviously be loads of 'what if's?' regarding the ref and some of his decisions, but the impression I got was that the Aussies would always of been capable of finding an extra score had they needed to. They didn't look fully extended from where I was sitting.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog George. Thouroughly enjoyed both games. I think England played superbly in the first half and caused Australia to make lots of mistakes. However the half time score was 12-8 to the kangaroos! Says it all when we play so well and are still losing. Australia over the past few years tend to play badly in 40minutes in entire competitions, which cost them the World Cup Final and last years Four Nations. I worry that they may have had their bad 40minutes now so will thrash whoever makes the final.
    I actually thought T-Rex first contact was on Westwoods arm but he made contact with the face and could easily have gone. The Briscoe try/no try was just a mistake in that he called held too early. Referees make good and bad decisions just like the players. If the players don't make mistakes then the referees ones don't hurt you.
    I just can't see England beating New Zealand and Australia in back to back games particularly if we lose our workhorses of GRaham, Ellis and Peacock back should be a thrilling climax to the tournament.

  • Comment number 11.

    @9 Just a quick word on Yeaman. Admitedly he made mistakes in attack but his defence was generally very good with a great understanding with his club mate.
    Highlight of the game for me was seeing young English players like Tomkins, Briscoe and Hall actually running and trying to beat the Aussie centres. Created holes and actually asked questions of them which is something our backs just haven't been able to do consistently.

  • Comment number 12.

    Stop crying about the ref! The best team won, and they won comfortably, everyone is also moaning about a try that didnt go to the video ref? nobody has mentioned how far forward the previous pass from Tomkins was? We will see how good England are on Friday against the Kiwis? if they win, then the Aussies will dish another lesson out, Slater or no Slater?

  • Comment number 13.

    I guess we have to agree to prefer our own sports then, I and a couple of million people considered the WC final to be a tense and highly entertaining final which could have been won by either side - points dont make excitement, just look at american sports

    The resetting of scrums I agree is a problem, and it infuriates a prop as well, they were safer before the "hit" was introduced. However rucks and mauls give the opposition the chance to win the ball back (albeit not as much as back in the day) - a good flanker can steal a lot of ball at badly protected rucks.

    One change I would make to league would be to get rid of the "can only strip the ball with one in the tackle" rule... but then we wouldnt have two different sports.

    I can see why the double move was called but I would have referred it to be sure.

  • Comment number 14.

    @13 I enjoyed the RU World Cup Final, too - it's just the moaning about the stop-start nature of league that gets to me, when union is to all intents and purposes equally disjointed.

    For next week, I think Widdop needs to start at 6 and Sinny should move to 13. Carvell needs to be involved too.

  • Comment number 15.

    England will win this tournament mark my words - this is down to the fact that we have some quality backs such as Tomkins, Hall and the superb Tomkins - great game with great skills - the code debate is just old hat - focus on the positive I have been saying for years for the game to get the exposure it deserves it needs a strong international competetion - which should include a British Lions tour. Finally did the RFL miss a trick asking predominatlty northern based fan base to travel to London on bonfire night as a family man my request for a day pass fell on deaf ears!

  • Comment number 16.

    The rule that gives referees the option to put an incident "on report" should be removed immediately. Any competant referee should be able to punish any foul play immediately rather than "bottle it" and let somone else do his dirty work.

    The Kiwi ref's lack of belief in his own ability was shown up a number of times where he blew his whistle immediately rather than playing advantage and then pulling back play if necessary. That being said many refs in all sports seem to love blowing their whistle to make sure they stay in the spot light.

    Finally, I do believe that the sourthern hemisphere believe that their interpretation of the rules is better than the northern hemisphere and that this colours their referee's decisions. Other people may call it bias....

  • Comment number 17.

    I might be biased but I don't think there is that much of a gulf between ourselves and Aus & NZ as suggested.

    NZ haven't beaten us over here in a long time and we have looked better than them so far in the tournament and I think we should be favourites going into next week.

    If you look at our last 3 games Vs Australia you would think we had been battered but in the final in 09 we were in the game until Shenton got injured with 20 to go and they ran away with it, last year the scoreline doesn't reflect how tough the game was and Tony Archer had a very good game for Australia and yesterday we were the better team for long periods and played a lot of the game without the best second rower in the world, our best prop sat out the second half injured and our leader was playing on one leg.

    If we can get Ellis, Jammer and JP fit for next week we will beat NZ.

    Onto the the world cup, by the time that comes around we will have the kids at Saints pressing for places with another two seasons under their belts, the 3 Burgess lads will have improved at Souths, Jammer will get even better playing for the Bulldogs, Sam Tomkins will be peaking, Widdop and Reed will improve massively (they have only been NRL regulars for 1 season and they can already compete with the best), Ellis will probably have picked up Wests player of the year for the fifth year running, the future of our squad if very bright.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm a Welsh Union fan, so many of you may dismiss my comments out of hand, but her goes anyway.

    Australia looked physically stronger across the park, stopping England on the gain line and always making yards with the ball. Tony Williams just exaggerated it in his own rampages. (TW's high tackle was disgusting and should have seen red, especially when you consider that he saw Westwood had fumbled and blindsided him completely - he saw it as an opportunity to take his head clean off.)

    Australia were also much more ruthless and efficient with the ball in hand. England have great spark in the likes of Roscoe, Tomkins and Hall, but nothing to compete with the class of Thurston and Lockyer. Sinfield is a plodder in comparison, Rangi ineffectual.

    All in all England RL remind me of Wales RU, a great deal of talent, but not quite technically proficient, ruthless or brutal enough to beat the very best. I'd bet that if NSW and QL played England, they'd both win as easily as the Aussies on Saturday.

    The answer? Cut the Super league in half, intensify the highest standard of competition in UK RL. It will take a few years but it's the only answer.

  • Comment number 19.

    I am an Australian and the better team on the day won. However, it was no accident that Williams took out Westwood. He was the best English forward by a long way and his tackles were hurting the Roos. That snide player Watmough hid every time Westwood came near him. Based on that showing I would not be surprised if England win this Four Nations. You have the young players to do it.

    Also, I went to the Rugby Union World Cup. I will never, ever again waste my money on such a boring, boring spectacle. You never saw the ball, except when it was one of the many lopsided games , and the constant resetting of scrums was monotonous. Rugby Union is the most disjointed game around.

    If you took the Aus/Eng Four Nations Test and the Rugby Union World Cup final and showed them to a people who had never seen either League or Union. I know which they would prefer, League. By the way the Rugby World Cup is actually the one the League plays for. Check it out you will find I am right. That is why the IRB named their cup after a myth, which says everything about Union. By the way I did play grade Union back in the 1970s.


  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    The game of Rugby League is clearly struggling.

    Forget the ref or who should have been sent off...This was the marquee match-up of Australia vs England and the stadium was not even half full.

    People in Australia (well, those from Sydney and Brisbane) will bang on about League being the no.1 footy code in Australia but it's clearly not, nothing could be further from the truth. Crowds are terrible, the administrative bodies constantly fight amongst themselves and 14 of the 16 clubs are posting big losses financially.

    If the gulf that separated League and Rugby was wide before the RWC, then surely this tournament only exacerbates that reality.

  • Comment number 22.

    1. Nice blog George. Brave move by the RFL going back to Wembley and I think the right one, despite the empty seats. As noted earlier, many league folk will avoid sitting through an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Ozzies until we're sure we can at least go toe-to-toe with them. On this evidence, I think we can (as an avid NRL and SLE watcher I often wonder how England could possibly compete with the Antipodeans, given the three-counties' tiny pool of players compared to Australia's pool of half a million!).
    2. Can we please stop mentioning other spots on rugby league pages. Whether its baseball or yawnion. It's not our sport. We don't watch or care about it and we are not interested in comparisons. I would be grateful if the BBC monitors would kindly remove comments mentioning other sports on rugby league articles.
    3. The referee's decision not to go to the video at a crucial point when the scores could have become 14-18 was criminal. Where's Monsieur Alibert when you need him? Refereeing fourth-string Ozzie ringers at a RLWC qualifier in Belgrade!


  • Comment number 23.

    @16 I totally agree. It's about time the 'on report' decision was removed. There's no benefit to the team on who has been on the receiving end of foul play. If in doubt, the ref should send the culprit to the bin.

    I also think Perenara has the making of a decent ref. Granted, a couple of decision were called wrong but that happens in every game. Players make wrong calls and so do coaches. He'll learn from it and become a better ref from it.

    England never really looked like winning after the first 20. They battled well but looked to be chasing the Aussies who seemed to have more composure and trust in their ability. I think we can beat them, but we have to get it right mentally. We always talk a good game but on the pitch it's like they're trying TOO hard to overcome the unbeatable Aussies. Someone like The Black Pearl in the dressing room could be the missing influence we need.

    Looking forward to the NZ game though. I hope it lives up to it.

    What a sport we have!!! In a League of it's own!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Jeez, what a lot of whingers!

    I agree England were hard done by with the Briscoe decision, but that's about it as far as the ref was concerned. T-Rex's shot came up off the arm and was no worse than plenty we see every week in the NRL ... certainly not a sending off offence. I suggest those who can't hack it take up darts or something else non-contact.

    In fact England should think themselves lucky on several accounts ...

    First for not being penalised for holding down umpteen times in the match. We never see that leniencey in Aussie where, if you don't get off a tackled player in a tenth of the time apparently allowed in England, you cop a penalty every time. That makes the game far more attacking, instead of a defensive bore as it was on Saturday.

    Second that the world's No1 player, Billy the Kid, played only the first few minutes. The Aussies are at least a couple of tries better when he plays.

    Third that the Aussies seem to be playing at half pace and only as hard as necessary in these preliminaries. Partly because they're out of season and not fully match fit, partly because the final is the only game that matters.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.


    Get some glasses!

    if that shot came off the arm then no tackle should ever be called high.

    Get a grip!!

    Slater paid the price for being totally unprofessional and flying in with a shoulder instead of a legal tackle! Numpty got what he deserved!

    "We never see that leniencey in Aussie where, if you don't get off a tackled player in a tenth of the time apparently allowed in England, you cop a penalty every time."

    That's load of tripe. I've watched a lot of Australian rugby and now even when you change the rules to suit yourselves and bring in TWO refs you're still lying all over the ruck and couldn't pick a forward pass better than their noses! Rubbish, absolute rubbish!

    You've just had a whole season to get match fit. If your not fit now you'll never be.
    Half people are delusional!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm more of a union fan but really enjoyed the game on Saturday (I also am not trying to start some debate about which code is "better" as it cannot be answered).

    I have a rule question though that I'm hoping someone can answer for me - how does offside work from kicks? My untrained eye suggests players can be in front of the kicker and still chase down the kick - is that correct?

  • Comment number 28.

    The folk espousing the merits of League versus Union should look at how the general public regard the two codes. If you're keen on one-dimensional games like draughts (as opposed to, say, chess) you'll be crazy about Saturday's game played at a half-full Wembley. I watched a replay and, at its best, especially Origin, League is a very entertaining game but it doesn't have the games within a game that Union has. The scrums (why persist in League?), the lineouts etc are magnificent spectacles in themselves in Union. There are many many sensational players playing League but the game itself is, in my opinion, distinctly second-rate.

  • Comment number 29.

    Lets compare squash with athletics or football with volleyball...................... or lets not.

    Union and league are not even similar sports, the only comparison is the ball and posts so lets stop comparing them and enjoy each for their own merits.

    Actually there is another comparison, the refs are useless in both I think we should train meerkats to referee, they couldnt be any worse.

  • Comment number 30.

    @28. which general public? The 15 or so million people living in the Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria areas who didn't even watch your world cup and for whom the word 'rugby' means 'league' exclusively and for whom union is an archaic throwback to the 19th century? A game where the ball is out of play or in the air for 50 minutes of 80; up someone's jumper for 25 minutes and only in hand and in play for 5 minutes at best. A game that interests only those force fed it at public school and that hasn't gained a convert based on its merits as a sporting spectacle since 1894 - after which a better sport - specifically developed to appeal to a wider audience wanting a simpler, quicker and more intense contest - appeared and rendered your sport obsolete.
    Please BBC, stop allowing followers of another sport (albeit an inferior one) from infecting rugby league pages.

  • Comment number 31.


    I know its Monday morning but thats a terrible post full of untruths.

  • Comment number 32.

    smackeyes, I suppose you're right. I'm just sick of coming across yawnion attacks on rugby league discussions online of a morning. I don't go around their blogs and articles telling them what I think of their sport. After 116 years, have they not fathomed that we don't like kicking the ball out on the full or sticking it up our jumpers for a group hug at a jog? Besides, if the Union's sole reason to exist was an amateur principle that they've since abandoned, has there been any reason for the Union to exist since the introduction of professionalism in 1995?
    Plus, I'm unfortunately actively involved in a league-union war in Serbia at the moment and the Union's tactics (even going as far as usurping humanitarian campaigns launched by League, organising international friendly fixtures to coincide with world cup qualifiers and registering rogue clubs to create a false Belgrade derby) make me puke. Next they'll be trying to convince the Serbian government that everyone involved in League is a British spy, like they did in France 70 years ago.

  • Comment number 33.


    Thats a bit heavy duty for a sports forum mate, I enjoy both sports and dont make comparisons, they are both different dont you think?

    P.s never went to public school but love union

  • Comment number 34.

    @27, Jimmy: if the chasers are in front of the kicker they are allowed to close down the catcher, but must not encroach within 10 metres of the point where he fields the ball unless they have been placed onside by the kicker himself.

  • Comment number 35.

    "if that shot came off the arm then no tackle should ever be called high"

    I didn't say it wasn't a high tackle, yes it was. But it came off the upper arm so not as bad as people make out and not worth anything more than a penalty. Even Westwood admits he was 'play-acting', milking it for all he was worth - refer

    "Slater paid the price for being totally unprofessional and flying in with a shoulder instead of a legal tackle!"

    Shoulder charges are perfectly legal in League.

    "I've watched a lot of Australian rugby and now even when you change the rules to suit yourselves and bring in TWO refs you're still lying all over the ruck"

    Now I understand, colonialchip, you've been watching too much Rugby ... no one in League refers to the play-the-ball as a ruck! This business of delaying the play-the-ball is the first thing I noticed about this latest series ... I was expecting a whistle practically every time it was soooo sloooow.

    "You've just had a whole season to get match fit. If your not fit now you'll never be"

    The Aussie season ended more than a month ago, and only two Aussies in Saturday's game played in the grand final - the rest were in teams whose seasons ended weeks before that.

    "Half people are delusional!!"

    Half pace at best. Watch the final ... assuming the ref does something about all the holding down!

  • Comment number 36.

    Union is dull, fact. Even Wendyball is better.

  • Comment number 37.

    smackeyes, as you said yourself - its like comparing squash and athletics. I don't watch union at all and certainly don't comment on blogs, news or forums covering the game, but when Unionists comment on our sport I tend to recall everything they've done to try to destroy our game and its international development for the past century+ and feel compelled to defend the greatest game.

  • Comment number 38.


    Dont watch it then....... easy peasy.

  • Comment number 39.

    On the Slater 'tackle'.

    You would hope the best payer in the world would know how to defend his line. Rather than launching himself at Hall's waist/legs, which would have, rather ironically, put him in touch, he chose to go for the glory shoulder charge (a legal move) against a much bigger man, and paid the price.

    Oh, and someone up above mentioned how great the 2 Oz half backs were, but Lockyear was largely anonymous, and the only time I remember the commentators mentioning his name was to say he'd not played a part in the game.

    TW,s tackle was a swinging arm that may have brushed BW's shirt, but it was aimed at and connected with his head. Should have been a red. The try should have stood. So with a 4 point lead and down to 12 men, I do feel the outcome would have been a different one.

  • Comment number 40.


    So 43k at Wembley shows a game in decline? So when England RU take a game out of their heartlands and play Argentina at Old Trafford and get a similar crowd, no doubt that showed Union to be a game in rude health? Supposse your sporting prejudice allows you to view on stadium half full, whilst another half empty

  • Comment number 41.


    Thanks for the article, but BBC the Union trolls need to be sorted out. They have their own forums. Thanks though GingerMogwai for your thoughts, objective Union fans most welcome.

    Lohengrin, what is it about people like you? For League haters, you seem to watch a lot of RL. To bother posting a negative comment about RL displays some deep rooted insecurity. As a child, did your parents tip your lego in the bin?

    Chess v draughts? You said exactly the same last time round. How about boxing v wrestling? Just something different for a change? Think you can manage?

    I do not post derisory comments on Union forums and would urge League fans not to do the same. Before you ask, no I am not a chippy Northerner, grew up on South coast. Just looked at both sports with an open mind and although I watch some Union, prefer League. Now be a good chap and keep out, please.

    Back to the article, just want to add that the one thing that impressed me was the Australian tackling which stopped English momentum and prevented almost any offloads. Their short passing game was great to watch as well. Can England improve? Sure they can, now bring on the Kiwis!

  • Comment number 42.

    I am rugby union fan but I do occasionally watch rugby league. They are different. Is there any point of having an argument which is better? I watched this rugby league match and I enjoyed it.

    I thought England played well. I completely agree with the article. There will always be the what if the try and the sending off in England's favour.

    The scoreline was certainly unfair on England in my opinion.

    Some very promising performances, particularly Hall and Tompkins.

    Rangi Chase is a little too erratic in my opinion. Him and Westwood allowed Australia too many good attacking positions.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is the first time I have ever taken any interest in a league blog despite enjoying both codes. What I find sad though is the amount of bad natured comments on here about both sports and their followers.

    These are two totally different sports, why compare, why can you not enjoy both? I do not understand.

    Both sports attract a diverse and knowledgeable array of supporters that enjoy/ love their game. Let's embrace them and enjoy the fact that neither has become totally ruined by money like football has.

    On a side note, I can remember as a child dreading reading the newspapers sports pages when union was still amateur. And the dissapointment I used to feel when the likes of Jiffy were tempted by big money to try their hands at league so I dont think any code can accuse the other of trying to "ruin" the other.

    Excellent game on Saturday but marred by an inept performance by the ref which appears to blight both codes at present.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sorry to say that those complaining bitterly about the referee are wrong...
    Australia are the better team by a country mile and if England are fortunate enough to beat the Kiwi's this weekend then the final will be the one sided debacle that we are used to seeing.
    I don't think that there was any intent in the high shot and as a previous poster alluded to it look like it bounced off the shoulder.
    As for the double movement. No the ball carrying arm didn't hit the ground, and the video ref would have given it, but if the referee was sure he'd seen momentum stopped then give him some credit for actually making a decision.
    If you ask me, Ryan Hall for the acrobatic excellence of his 1st finish didn't have downward pressure on the ball.
    England acquitted themselves very well, but when your half back pairing is a Loose Forward and a Kiwi, then it shows you why we are still behind the Aussies.. The Aussies looked like they could have stepped up a gear when needed whereas England looked flat out for the 80.
    Can you imagine England's performance had it been Tomkins and not Slater that went off so early in the game? The Aussies get the job done...

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi George,
    Good blog, like most of your RL blogs. I was at the game on the weekend and loved every minute of being at Wembley watching 2 games of international League. I am an Aussie living in the UK and was very happy to see our lads win. But wasn't it great to see 10 good quality tries scored in an international match? I was really pleased to see a competitive England also - it has been a while since we have seen an England team truly capable of taking the game to Australia. But the class of players like Thurston, Lockyer, Smith, Thaiday and Gallen, who prove themselves week in week out in the NRL and the State of Origin series, proved too strong.

    I am a bit bemused about Steve McNamara's complaint about the referee given that last week he called Tim Sheens and the Aussies "whingers" or "whiners" when they complained about Phil Bentham - to me, that is double standards. The reality is that we only have 2 competent panels of referees in Rugby League - those that referee regularly in the NRL and those that referee regularly in Super League. And even in those competitions, about half of the referees are of good quality with the rest being average at best. France, Wales, PNG and NZ provide NO good quality standard referees. So, if the 4 Nations has to be officiated by neutral referees, Engalnd v Australia will always have sub-standard officials. OR, they make the decision to choose the best Aussie/England referee to officiate. Whatever they decide, no one will be happy because we will continue with sub-standard neutrals or accusals of bias and "home-town decisions".

    I'd much rather see end of season tours between Australia and England with 3 tests and mid week matches against club sides.

  • Comment number 46.

    Great work George. I too get sick of the referee mistakes taking centre stage, teams blaming refereeing errors for losing etc. are usually hiding their own poor performances. But when you come up with two horrendous decisions within minutes you have to accept the flack youre going to get with it.

    Also, I think I heard at the start the guy only made his NRL debut this season. Surely that renders him too inexperienced to take charge in the test arena? Our sport is one of the only ones played under different rules according to location and so the nationality of the ref has way too much of a baring on matches. In my opinion the quest for a neutral ref has led to this guy and Alibert getting key games that they weren't ready for.

    I don't understand why our game has percevierd with the "on report" concept. In theory, it's a good tool for the referee. No-one can expect them to see everything and if they miss an incident it's good that they have somewhere to refer it to.

    However in practice it is too easy an option for the officials. They are using it when they DID see the incident, and deffer it when action needs taking. Williams probably will get a ban, but the Aussies will be able to field 13 next week when they shouldn't have been able to for 20ish minutes on Saturday.

    It also leads to questions on what to do if the incident warrented only a binning. In 2007 Sam Burgess did a tackle worthy of 10 minutes (and no not the one on Moimoi), and it was put on report. The judicial commitee had to decide whether to hand him a ban that would have been excessive, or take no action, effectively letting him get away with it, which is what they did.

    Let's scrap the concept and if the RFL/NRL see an incident after watching a game again, just have them take action as and when they see fit.

  • Comment number 47.

    Pity these comments are reverting to the usual tit-for-tat between the codes (largely on account of Union supporters, it has to be said). I am a player and principally a fan of Union but have always liked and respected League so I was pleased to be at Wembley on Saturday to see one excellent match and one decent one (I thought Wales showed some excellent skills with ball in hand at points but clearly were never going to get close to New Zealand). England were driven on by a partisan crowd (and a big one too - Wembley is vast so any crowd below 70,000 would have left banks of empty seats. 43k is not at all bad) and this had a visible effect on the players at times, but Australia were clearly the more deadly finishers (although Hall was hugely impressive) and wore us down as the match progressed, as they have done many times in the past after we have started strongly. We were second best but not by a massive margin and if we get a second crack at them this autumn then we should take them on with confidence.

    As for the League/Union debate/argument - yes they are different sports, but they obviously can be compared. I won't criticise either here but will repeat something I've said before - they are both attempts to get the game of Rugby "right", and I don't believe that either of them has quite managed to get there yet (as the many rule changes in both codes over the decades indicate). I think partisans of both codes should at least try to give the other its due: League does have a smaller international base than Union, but compared to most sports around the world international League is still big news, drawing big crowds and often producing great contests. And Union has improved immeasurably as a sport since professionalism, though there are areas (e.g. the scrum) that clearly are dysfunctional at the moment.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to the rest of the tournament and hope that England can at least get a win against New Zealand - it is important that we are in the final on our home soil.

  • Comment number 48.

    "Australia may still have proved too strong"" - Considering the factors that England played on home soil to 40,000 fans, Australia had Slater off after 15-20 mins (whatever it was) and Australia were still able to convert all their tries and win the match means England are still some way off considering themselves competitive.
    I was impressed with the 'kitchen sink' attitude England brought to the game and watching them attack with confidence was brightening to see, however, every time Australia sniffed a chance they were making bee lines to the try line!

    Until the Super League can make the step-up in class to the NRL, produce its own world class coaches then England can consider themselves 3 out of 4 teams

    Michael Maguire is responsible for finally giving England a potential world class player in Tomkins, and he's Australian!

  • Comment number 49.

    I sometimes struggle to see what Westwood brings to England, apart from needless penalties.

  • Comment number 50.

    "Lockyear was largely anonymous, and the only time I remember the commentators mentioning his name was to say he'd not played a part in the game."

    Which channel were you watching this game? I recorded that match on the box and if you like, I'm happy to go back and quote what they were saying about Lockyer. He orchestrated some of the attacking play that put Australia over the line! Not that you were probably doubting his talents but even if it wasn't his best game let's not downsize a man who has been rated one of the best ever players in Rugby League history!

  • Comment number 51.

    Only made it for the second match (due to trains coming into Euston) so can only comment on Eng vs Aus.

    It was a great game (certainly better than my last live league match- Crusaders vs Saints in Bridgend, pouring rain and it ended 4-0 to Saints!).

    For me the standout players were Thurston, Hall and Tomkins. However, I just felt like England lacked some composure when approaching the Aussie line; a lot of forced attempted offloads etc. Whereas when the Aussies were near the line a try seemed inevitable.

    No doubt the ref had a bit of a 'mare too.

  • Comment number 52.

    As for the Union / League debate. I was brought up and played Union since a very young age and loved the game. i always found league slow, boring and predictable. I moved to Brisbane for a couple of years and now my head has turned. I had the opportunity to see league played how it should be week in week out. It is played at high pace and intensity. I now find union very slow, boring and predictable whereas i find league open and flowing.

  • Comment number 53.

    Does anyone think that Sinfield is cutting the mustard at No.6?

    The stand-off should be a good ball carrier and make the runs that start off the big breaks.

    Kev Sinfield didn’t seem to make any. He also had a bad time with the boot.

    I think Widdup at 6 would link better with Chase than the current combination.

  • Comment number 54.

    bad bits about union - too much kicking, scrums only work 20% of the time and the rest of the time referees have to guess (though sometimes its obvious) whos at fault. Most of the game is spent (when active) with the ball with the forwards attempting (but mostly failing) to punch a hole in the opositions line. Often in a game, apart from kicking, the backs only part in the game is fleeting and only get involved on the off chance. In the RWC final with 4 minutes to go NZ got the ball, set up a ruck position and the ball just sat there with France unable to do anything about it. Its not the first time time wasting like that has happened in a big game and commentators (ex players) have called for the law to be changed - France finally had to concede a penalty which effectively handed the game to NZ. In Union if a back does run onto a ball and gets through the defensive line then they have to score a try else they find themselves isolated and end up turning the ball over - scant reward for a fine move. In League all players are important and are active throughout the game, they are used both for defence and attack. Kicking is very important and the variety of kicking is greater, each game having distance, grubber, dinks, the Garryowen and short kicks over the oposition. Any breaks are rewarded with better field position so you are not penalised for good play. About the game, the biggest mistake the referee made has not been mentioned and that was to allow Australia to lie on and slow the game down when England were in good field position. Briscoes try was chalked off because of what the Referee though he saw (a double movement). But he made 2 rule book errors - 1 when Yeaman off loaded on the floor njust as the ref blew the whistle - the rule is scrum attack not defence. 2. An Assie was being dragged out, the ref shouted 'held' many times and England did not stop, the Aus. player offloaded and the ref gave penalty to England, but the offload was a direct result of England not releasing when told to do so - it should have been Aus. penalty.

  • Comment number 55.

    I have to agree with stueylad.

    England need to get Widdup on the field somehow. Sinfield isnt doing it so that would be the obvious choice. Widdup is far too good a player to be on the bench.

    Sinfields natural position is 13. But Heighington seems to be doing a decent job there for me.

  • Comment number 56.

    Although the Union v League debate is deeply interesting is it possible that discussion belong to a post specific to that?

    This post is about the eng v aus game.

    By the way, after reading about Australians who deny lieing on and slowing the game down. Did anyone see the "wheel barrow- cartwheels" treatment Tomkins got whilst trying to play the ball?

    Also are Australia not playing a game that is too conservative? They seem to rely on mistakes to happen that will give them field position. Many times they never made it out of their own half. Thye turn it on when they get into the opponents 20. For me this is very cynical rugby and a well disciplined/defensive team will stay with them. England show the flair but need to be more disciplined through the whole game.

    Another error that England seem to make is not passing the ball to Tomkins when running the ball back from a deep kick. There is never more than 2-3 players chasing a deep kick and Tomkins is the man to beat a couple of chasers in broken play. Any thoughts? Tomkins needs to get into the game more.

  • Comment number 57.

    Sinfield ran the show for England. Leeds Rhinos found during the back end of the season that Sinfield at 6 for full game did not work. In the Grand Final he started at 6, McGuire at 7, Clarkson at 13, Clarkson goes off, Sinfield goes to 13, McGuire to 6, Burrows to 7, bench now has 4 big forwards (Clarkson, Lauititi, Kirke, Bailey). More importantly Sinfield relinquishes control/command and McGuire takes over. McGuire is a team talker/organiser and pushes and prods Leeds players over the park. Just as important McGuire sits in the right position defensively at 6 or 7 (Sinfield tended to drift nearer the goal posts - his normal 13 position). During the Aus. game Sinfield tended to drift to loose forward position leaving Reed & Hall exposed facing 3 oposition players. Sinfield only played at 6 for Leeds because McGuire was injured and, as many Leeds fans will tell you, he tried his best but did not cut it. If you retain Widdop on the bench then when he comes on he needs to play at 6 and Sinfield needs to switch to 13. During the game Widdop had no position and was lost as to his role (he looked to be playing loose forward a role he's not suited for and has never played). With Wilkin & Widdop on bench & known problems with Graham & Ellis (both known may not last the match) then it meant the bench was way too light - Bailey & Carvell should have played instead of Widdop & Wilkin. Why did McNamara risk 2 injured players in 1 match. As for Tony Williams no player gets red for high shot unless deliberate (which it was not) he would have got yellow at most but all refs at senior level cop out and only put players on report - this is a change asked for and agreed by clubs/coaches - so not refs fault. This decision was made after Stephen Kearney was sent off v Bradford Bulls in 2005 Grand Final play off eliminator. If you hit a forward like Tony Williams did to Westwood and you dont penalise then what happens if say Peacock then catches say Cameron Smith (small player) in similar fashon and that player (Smith) has to go off injured?

  • Comment number 58.


    I get what you are saying WRT Williams being not deliberate but if you hit a man on the jaw with your fore arm then its dangerous play. Yellow card, 10 mins.

    I do agree with your opinion about the bench.

    Am i being cynical if I write that Aus worked out that we were light in defences due to Graham and Ellis out of the game and so thought a crack at Westwood (he was defending well when not giving away penalties) would put our pack on the back foot?

  • Comment number 59.

    I feel the southern hemisphere refs are not playing a fair game both codes. The sh gets away with too much. Its like they are always looking to punish the NH while looking not to punnish the SH by turning a blind eye. Its not making for good entertainment and its often made too clear what they are doing. They need to be a bit more even handed when blowing the whistle or people will stop watching and they will be out of a job.

  • Comment number 60.

    Its been the same dilemma for as far as i can remember with GB vs AUS in Rugby League. You can go for a (supposedly) more competent ref from Britain or Australia and then have the inevitable accusations of bias or you can go for a (supposedly) less-competent/experienced official from another nation.

    I also agree with other posters that they should take away the option of putting someone on report. Whenever its used it always feels like the refs taking the easy way out of making a tough decision. There's 3 officials and they should be able to decide between them whether a bad tackle is a yellow, red or just a penalty.

  • Comment number 61.

    Seems like we enjoy looking for reasons as to why we didn't win. But one reason stands out. Australia were better than us in every department. My MOM was Sam Tompkins but, that aside, the Aussies were faster than us, passed better than us & made more use of the ball when they had it than us. They are still 5 years ahead of the British game in every area & I can't see any sign of it ending soon.

  • Comment number 62.

    OK guys, next time we hire a Pakistan ref to take charge against the Aussies.

    We got some of their guys in nick, but nothing is impossible nowadays you know..nudge..nudge..wink...wink.

    Right when is the next game? Cricket or Rugby, who cares !!

  • Comment number 63.

    Being union man I suppose I count as a troll but there are many facets of league play I admire - the quality of passing and support play is much better than in union for starters. Despite that for me league is a dull game compared to union - but each set of fans has their own views.

    Anyway I admire Steve McNamara's reaction to the referee. he was disappointed but did not blame the referee for the defeat - something football could learn from. Yes the ref got two key decisions wrong, he is human it happens.

  • Comment number 64.

    Very negative Liam lad....
    England are close and a bit of banter of how to tinker around with things is always interesting.

    El nino 81 has hit the nail on the head WRT referees. Whinging is never a good thing but we had the same thing in the 90's when Ian Lucas was knocked out and needed O2. The ref (a kiwi) cautioned Lucas for play acting (the injury ended the career of lucas). The solution was to have an Aussie ref, Glen Mcallum who did a sterling job.

    I'd rather go for the full time ref anyday rather than an neutral amateur.

  • Comment number 65.

    @61 - Liam, I think you are wrong. The big advantage Australia have over the England team is that their spine know each other very well and have been playing together for years. Year after year we change our spine and it is hopeless. But even so, I have never seen England play as well against Australia as they did in those first 20 minutes. I wasn't watching League in the apparent glory days of the 90s when we would occasionally beat them. But I have watched them being so dire as to be beyond hope, the lowest point being the world cup in 2008. The team and the England set up has moved on from there.

    While Rangi Chase isn't a natural scrum half he is doing a fine job playing out of position and what he really needs is a proper halfback partner, and Widdop is it. Sinfield to 13. Heighinton for me is a waste - only in there because of this deluded idea that some English people (including the national coach) have that just because a player plays in the NRL he is better than his English counterparts. Hogwash! Heighinton is taking a spot from an English player who could do the job better. But we will need his body on the park next week as I doubt very much we will have Graham or Peacock available to us. James Graham has been struggling with a back problem all season and he was receiving treatment for it before the game on Saturday so there was no surprise when he was taken off at halftime. I'd put Heighinton in at second row, bring in Carvell and Ryan Bailey (even though I hate that idea on principle as a Saints fan), and stick with the line up as it is. Our biggest failing is our goal line defence but we have no choice. Our best defensive centre in Michael Shenton is currently recovering from a dislocated elbow. So we have to make do with relatively poor edge defence and a fullback who still is a work in progress when it comes to goal line defence. That means we have to work harder in field to stop the Aussies getting too close to our line and there isn't a player on that field who isn't capable of doing that. They just need to take a lesson from the book of Wales, who worked harder in defence than England did (both teams conceded the same points but Wales is half made up of part-time players so they put in extra effort to achieve that, which was an improvement on their previous week's performance).

    Other than that I can say that when two of your props are taken off for a full half and one of the props remaining has a ruined knee, there is no way a team is going to compete as they would with a fully functional set of forwards. Their absence is also going to cause disruption to the rest of the team's structure. But even without our best props we still managed to score tries in the second half.

    Nope, we are not five years behind the Aussies. Not anymore. We are just days away from beating them if we can tweak our personnel and performance accordingly.

    However, first of all we have to beat the Kiwis. And I'd say that in order to continue the momentum created by the wonderful day on Saturday, we really do HAVE to beat the Kiwis.

  • Comment number 66.

    Work in progress for Sam defensively I can understand that.

    Another alternative is to put Widdup at full back and move Sam up to stand-off.

    I personally think Tomkins is best at full back bur should be running from deep more.

    The youth aspect of the England team is very interesting. Sam just signed a contract for 5 years keeping him away from Twickenham and the youth of Saints should be in the team now.They reacted well in SL so why not on the big stage.

    England do seem up for it though. And the positivity and desire to compete is a delight to see.

  • Comment number 67.

    It all old hat now but the referee wasn't up to much, but you have to live with the descisions. 'On report' is a total cop out, ref's have to have the b**ls to make a descision there and then, on report, whilst it may affect the player involved doesn't affect the match in progress which is what the ref should decided to do. If Tony Williams does get a ban for the high shot who's that going to affect? Tony Williams, that's all. It doesn't affect the result of the game, it wont affect the Aussie team as they'll just chuck in the next man down the line and will hardly affect the teams performance. The descision needs to be made at the time. I'm not a great fan of the video ref but perhaps it's worth referring this sort of stuff to them, especially on the high profile matches.

    Secondly, I'd like to see McGuire on the bench, I know he hasn't got the speed he once had but I feel that if Chase or Sinfield get stuffed he's a good option to have available and his back up on the break is as good as anybodys.

  • Comment number 68.

    All in all I thought Saturday was a great day for international rugby league. 43,000 at wembley to watch a spirited Wales team full of youth and potential take on a NZ team that is current 4 nations holders and world cup winners. Also to see an England team finally have attacking options in the back line and creative spark take on the Aussies and put in a performance that said we have moved forward from just trying to contain them for 80 mins.

    When you look at the first 20mins our attacking structure looked to be threatening the aussies. We had many options, with led runners and 2nd phase options round the back, putting defenders in 2 minds. Sadly we only had the one try to Ryan Hall to show for this, although this was partly down to a sensational last ditched tackle from Billy Slater on Ben Westwood.

    Englands problem was they were unable to build on the opening 20 mins and if anything they lost some of their composure, and started to let errors creep into their game. (The passage of play, in the 2nd half, where Sinfield dropped inside ball - followed by passing to an unsuspecting Jamie Peacock managed to make England look amateurish!).

    Overall with a few more calls going there way and alot more ball control/composure they could have won this game. I am quite sure that despite the injuries suffered on Saturday England could/should beat NZ and set up a barn-storming night at Elland Rd. If all players carrying knocks are out I believe Steve mac will start with the Warrington front roweres Morley and Carvell. To replace Ellis I would go with Wilkin as I believe with his speed, handling and kicking game he offers something different in our backrow and play prodominately in the left channel setting up a left right combination with Westwood. Im not overly impressed with Heighington at this moment in time but he would could his place as too many changes may disrupt Englands chances. I thought JJB brought intensity and aggression off the bench so should keep his place and. The remaining two places would go to Ablett and Bailey which sadly leaves are bench looking quite weak in my opinion. In hindsight it may have been worth going for LMS in the squad over Ablett as a versatile player like him is unlikely to feature unless there are injuries all along the squad. But this is only worse case scenario in which Graham, Ellis and Peacock are ruled out.

    Overall Id like to see England keep the same team to continue the combinations that have been developing which should produce a more compossed performance on Saturday.

  • Comment number 69.

    You only need to look at the number of posts on this blog compared to the average to confirm that international Rugby League is the future - it generates interest and gives out best players the chance to perform on a bigger stage - we need a Lions tour!

  • Comment number 70.

    Diamond cutter you are right lad.
    A good old tour with 2 teams. 1st and 2nd string. Some 2nd string players playing good enough to get into the 1st team.

    Australia has forgotten about the international game due to lack of competition and has become somewhat insular. These small series are ok to watch but are nothing compared to a proper 3 month tour. Rugby union has suffered the same due to the success of their RWC (which is good). Union doesnt need a lions tour anymore. The home union nations dont need the red shirt for a tour anymore.

    Come on England.

    I have just had 2 pints of fursty ferret beer. Very nice!

  • Comment number 71.

    By the way, with regards to our antipodean readers, to back up my comment about Australia being insular. The Sydney Morning Herald has a poll for the winners of Eng & NZ next friday. 74% say that NZ will win. Just because NZ do well against Aus, the average Aussie thinks that the Kiwis will beat us.


    Maybe Bruce should look at our record against NZ.

  • Comment number 72.

    Just watching Danny Maguire on question of sport BBC1.

    This guy is sharp as a tac. Although I think Widdup should play at 6, I am now having my doubts.

    Also just read that T-Rex is thinking of coming back from a trip to Berlin to appeal a a ban. That in itself is a yellow card. The best city in England is York. Great all serving crackin bitter at cheap prices!.

    Come one Maguire on Tuffnells team!

  • Comment number 73.

    Reality check!
    Maguire was too slow in the quick fire round which I think parallels his foot speed. For me a stand off has to have the zip zip quality. Think Brett Kenny in the 80's and thats the bench mark. Sorry Danny!

    If its any consolation my Ukranian wife says you are too good looking to be a rugby player. Maybe yer not that slow after all!

  • Comment number 74.

    I have tried to send my comments for about a day (on and off), so I found another way to upload the text and provide a link: Maybe the moderator can paste the text here.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Good comment Quinny lad.

    I just dont buy the fact that you guys want a quick play of the ball. Well actually you do but only when you have the ball. Very professional.

    Ever notice that an Oz player takes at least 2 steps forward after the tackle before playing the ball?

    Kettles and pots my friend.

    And Maguire made Tomkins? Utter nonsense. God made that talent. That cant be taught nor perfected. Its intrinsic. He played Tomkins all over the field and it turned out that fullback was his most dangerous position. I agree with you that Tomkins is best a FB. I actually think ST has it on BS. And our weakness as you wrote is not utilising the return after a kick. But i dont get your ideas for Wellens. Wellens in his day was elusive and had the silkiest of running skills.

    But your ideas of putting in Widdup I think are warranted. He would dovetail nicely into a halfback slot.

    Absolute great comments lad!

  • Comment number 77.

    Fully agree with Stuey above Tomkins was not "made" by Maguire. He was in our '09 four nations game and heralded as a superstar in the making before Maguire came over here. He's enhanced his game though.

    Yeah it's an Aussie trick to take a couple of steps forward whilst playing the ball. Makes it look like marker interference or could draw a not square penalty. Maguire Smith and Brown brought it here and not sure the refs have fully wised up to it yet.

    Can't agree on the comparison between Tomkins and Billy the kid though. Tomkins has scored some outstanding tries in broken play, in a league where the defence is nowhere near the standard of the NRL. That league, complete with Origin and indeed the test arena, are the ones where Slater has proved he is an undoubted superstar of the game. That isn't to say Tomkins won't be one day.

  • Comment number 78.

    "Just because NZ do well against Aus, the average Aussie thinks that the Kiwis will beat us."

    No, actually I think it is because New Zealand won the last WC and Four Nations, sit in second place in the rankings and play a similar game to Australia. Not to mention also that they have better players.

    I think you're a little short-sighted.

  • Comment number 79.

    "And Maguire made Tomkins? Utter nonsense. God made that talent. That cant be taught nor perfected."

    So God had more to do with the development of Tomkins.. than Macquire? Interesting. Does Tomkins also walk on water?

    Just go back to all the great players in football and tell me what great coach didn't make an impact into the development of each one of them?

  • Comment number 80.

    @78 - I think England look better this year than NZ. Whether England will beat NZ is another matter of course but as a team we look better than them. That's probably because they have left their best players at home. But that's a good chance for us to beat them and then have a second crack at the Aussies.

  • Comment number 81.

    Hi Not so great britain,
    good comment WRT the coaching impact of Maguire at Wigan influencing Tomkins. I am sure he must have had a massive impact. The same team that Noble , Maguire seemed to take them to a new level in such a short time. Brilliant job.
    But who made Tomkins? Must be his mum and dad who decided to take him back north at early age to play for St John Fisher RC High (My Alumni) and learn his trade in RL heartland.

    By the way Australia beat England in the last 4 nations final.
    England don't have this mental block over NZ that Aus seem to have. Its a bit like England RU playing France. Its inconceivable for England RU to lose against France which i feel parallels NZ v Aus in rugby league.

    Walk on water Tomkins?
    I dont really like this 1 player hero worship. The reason why our game is the best is because its a team game.

    In Football. You can have the best player in the world and you will win. In rugby you are only as strong as your weakest link. Thats why rugby league/union is the only sport to watch.

    So who has ideas about Eng forwards to play NZ?

  • Comment number 82.

    Bully boy Westwood!
    Reading several Aus rugby forums it seems that Westwood is a much feared forward. Many australians have intimated that Westwoods defense scared the hell out of Aus and in particular Watmore went missing whenever Westwood was in the line to defend. Not my words. Any Aus ideas?

  • Comment number 83.

    Again a great blog and don't all these many many great posts surely show the value in a top internation being held at Wembley, best profile in ages !! Roll on the kiwis, though I feel even if we win we won't have much left to take on a reshreshed Aus team.

    Bring back the Lions tour - every four years. This one game shows the profile the Ashes would (did ??) have, keep the home nations, there is room for all.

    Our sport maybe be small but its perfectly formed...keep defending everyone !! Its vital the truth is told....that RL was banned in the forces (thats how RU was spread.) We haven't a shamefull 'past to have a whole sport banned or have a 'whites only' policy that RU did in this country.

    Even our scrums are now better !!!!

    If only we could beat the Aussies !!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Hi there Piesntries, did i spell that right?
    So what if RL was banned in the forces teams. Their loss.

    So do you have any thoughts on our best team?

    As an engineer i feel that its great to pontificate WRT our best team.


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