Steve McNamara impressed by England despite France mis-match

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

England coach Steve McNamara was encouraged by the professionalism of his side as they demolished a patched-up France 84-4 in their opening autumn international at Leigh.

France coach Richard Agar admitted it was “an ugly scoreline” and declared the contest a mis-match, but McNamara saw enough to encourage him as he prepares his team to take on world number one nation New Zealand in a three-match Test series.

“It can be a tricky situation when the scoreboard gets the way it did, but I thought it was a very thorough and professional performance,” McNamara said.

“I liked the connections and combinations and it was nlce to see the players pretty much in sync with each other. The ideal situation would have been a tougher game, but we learned some things from that game it was good to come through injury free.”

McNamara, who watched the game next to dual-code international Sam Burgess, got the chance to see his new half-back pairing of Gareth Widdop and George Williams hit it off, while John Bateman, chosen as a left-centre despite playing second row and right centre for Wigan, produced a two-try, man-of-the-match display on his England debut.

“For me, he’s a left-sided player, it was his favourite side as young kid,” said McNamara, who coached Bateman during his formative years at Bradford. “He’s been doing a great job for Wigan on the right, but it’s good that he can play different positions.”

McNamara is hoping to have full-back Sam Tomkins back from injury for the first Test against the Kiwis in Hull on Sunday week and said he would not hesitate to make changes if necessary.

“Selection is tough, ” he said. “We’ve seven players in the dressing room who didn’t play who are very good players.

“I want to sit and watch game again, but, if I feel we can improve our team by making changes, I will do that.”

Second rower Brett Ferres scored a second-half hat-trick of tries as England cantered to their biggest-ever win over France, surpassing their 73-6 rout at Gateshead in 1996.

The depleted visitors, who were without around a dozen regulars, trailed 18-0 after eight minutes and, although winger Olivier Arnaud – one of three debutants – hit back with a try, they were out of the game by half-time when they trailed 32-4.

“It was a mis-match,” Agar said. “It was probably no good for both sides.

“I f we’d have had a crystal ball to see the strength of our team coming into this game, it probably wouldn’t have been wise to put the fixture together. We had six or seven players out there who aren’t full-time.

“I thought England looked slick and sharp, but it’s hard to tell how good they were against the opposition they were up against. There was such a disparity between the teams.”

Agar was denied the services of a host of Catalans Dragons players and revealed that his squad were prevented from training at the Super League club’s Gilbert Brutus stadium in the build-up to Saturday’s match and contrasted that to the club’s invitation to the touring Kiwis to train there early next week.

“The rug was pulled out from under us about training at Brutus, yet the red carpet has been rolled out for New Zealand,” Agar said. “The status of our team in that particular neck of the woods is probably a little bit disappointing.

“As national coach, you want all the support you can get. When you see another country getting a damned sight more support than us, you need to ask a couple of questions there.

“In future, we’ll just take our sessions to Toulouse, where we’ll be welcomed.

“One of the ideas of the Dragons coming into Super League was to try and strengthen the French national team and I’m not too sure it’s done that.

“But that’s no reflection on today’s result.

“It highlights the respective depth in the playing stocks of both countries.”

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search