World Cup warm-up win puts a spring in Shaun Wane’s step
But for having to use a crutch to aid his mobility, England coach Shaun Wane would have an extra spring in his step on Saturday morning after watching his side warm up for the World Cup in impressive fashion.
Wane, who is still recovering from knee surgery, was in upbeat mood following England’s 50-0 rout of Fiji in Salford which went a long way to helping him finalise his line-up for next Saturday’s tournament opener against Samoa in Newcastle.
Wane reported a clean bill of health following the warm-up game and Wigan second rower John Bateman is the only player in his 24-man squad unavailable for next week as he continues to serve a three-match suspension.
Wane will bring in captain Sam Tomkins, along with the four Grand Finalists from St Helens and Leeds who did not play against Fiji, and says he now knows his best team.
The unanswered questions are which two of the six specialist props he will leave out, where he accommodates the versatile Jack Welsby and must decide whether to promote exciting youngster Dom Young following his sparkling debut on Friday night at the expense of veteran winger Ryan Hall.
“I need to sit down with Lasty (assistant coach Andy Last) and go through the game but I’ve got a good idea of my team,” Wane said.
“I’m looking forward to making some tough choices and having some tough conversations.
“I’ve picked 24 players and they understand they can’t all play but we’re one team and whoever is not in will support us and will get us through to the week after.”
The Wigan trio Liam Marshall, Sam Powell and Harry Smith helped plug the gaps against Fiji, along with Huddersfield centre Jake Wardle, and they will be among a group of players remaining on stand-by in case of injuries.
“There are a few more players in the background keeping fit,” Wane said. “They’ve given up their holidays to make sure that, if we have an injury, they can jump in.
“The sacrifices they’ve made has been immense, to give up family time to do that for the cause is really impressive.
“They won’t be in the hotel with us but they will have programmes at home to keep fit and they will be ready to call on.
“I can’t imagine how tough that is for them but they understand the situation and they’re up for it.”
Wane believes England have gone largely under the radar in the build-up to the 16th World Cup but hopes their nine-try destruction of a team that has reached the semi-finals in each of the last three tournaments will send out a message to the doubters.
“There’s been a lot of talk about every other nation, I’m just glad we got out there and performed and that people have seen a glimpse of what we can do,” he said.
“I know we’re going to 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 that we’ve got a team as well and hopefully they will talk about us now.”