Tom Burgess never had any doubt about the current England team but admits confidence is growing that they can finally bring the World Cup home.
The 30-year-old former Bradford front rower is appearing in his third World Cup and, as one of six survivors from the team that lost 6-0 to Australia in the 2017 final in Brisbane, believes they can go one better this time.
“I’ve always got confidence in England,” he said. “Every time I pull on this jersey, I’m very proud and confident in our ability.
“Definitely this year feels good and for myself I’m feeling really good too. Five years on, I’m a more mature player and hopefully I can be a bit of a leader for this England team.”
England’s impressive 46-6 victory over Papua New Guinea in Wigan on Saturday earned them a semi-final duel with Samoa at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium next Saturday.
They have racked up 242 points in their four matches so far but Burgess says there is still more to come.
“We can definitely keep getting better,” said the South Sydney prop. “There were a few times where we did silly things, shooting out of the line, we made a few errors, we can definitely always get better.”
It is difficult to imagine how England could improve on the start they made against the Kumuls as they put on a show in front of the Princess of Wales, who braved the rain to attend her first match since succeeding her brother-in-law Harry as patron of the Rugby Football League.
England completed 13 straight sets and led 38-0 after 24 minutes, highlighted by a stellar display from winger Tommy Makinson, who finished the match with a record five tries and five conversions for an individual haul of 30 points.
Makinson amply demonstrated England’s new cutting edge but the platform was once more laid by the forwards, with Burgess again prominent. He helped Shaun Wane’s men make their now customary flying start by rumbling over for the game’s first try after just five minutes.
“It’s always nice to get over for a try but it was a case of sticking to your job as a front rower,” he said.
“You run hard and try to get metres forward and get that momentum. I thought we did that and, on the other side, I thought we defended really well and got into their faces.
“In those first few sets I don’t think they got out of their half so that was a big part of why the start was so good.”
The nine-try romp rounded off a successful day for England after Craig Richards’ team thrashed Canada 54-4 at the DW Stadium to put secure their place in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals.