live action...

Aus  54-6  Fij  FT

20th October 2017, 18:08 | super_league

WE GOT ISSUES: England warm-up analysis

WE GOT ISSUES: England warm-up analysis

By Steve Mascord

FOR Wayne Bennett and England it was “better than a training run”. For scrum-half Luke Gale, it may have meant a little bit more.

Twenty-three members of the 24-man World Cup squad were used in a warm-up game against Combined Affiliated States, a team representing the parts of Australia where Aussie Rules is the dominant winter code.

As you’ve not doubt already read, there were 13 tries – Jermaine McGillvary, Ryan Hall, Gale and Tom Burgess each scored two.

But it was Castleford scrum-half Gale’s 14-point haul that could have some lasting significance.

After the year-long League Leaders fell at the final hurdle at Old Trafford, the Man of Steel could have been forgiven for stewing about it on the day-long flight to Oz.

Halfback is a position where confidence is essential; England could not afford to have Gale going into the World Cup opener against Australia next Friday doubting himself.

Scoring a try in the very first minute on Friday night should put paid for that.

“It’s been a very hectic couple of weeks, to be honest” said Gale.

“The grand final result didn’t go as we expected and it was kind of a good tonic to jump on the plain and join up with the English boys. It’s been a good few days down here in Perth.

“A couple of days, you go on your away trip with the lads and you reflect on what was a great year with Castleford.

“I’m proud of the efforts. We just kind of fell short at the final hurdle but the team’s come a long way.

“You get on the plane, meet up with the English boys and that’s kind of forgotten about. It’s at the back of your mind.”

The main talking points for the team as they prepare to shift base to Melbourne were straightforward.

Fullback Johnny Lomax didn’t play as he was rested. He is expected to be available for selection.

Kallum Watkins was listed to start but didn’t. You’d expect him to be one of the starting centres against Australia but he had to look on as Ben Currie got a shot.

Gareth Widdop, Gale and Stefan Ratchford all had a shot at goal-kicking. All were successful. It will be interesting to see who is first choice in Melbourne.

Aside from that, the night was a success. The crowd numbered in the hundreds and both national anthems inexplicably went into the second verse before being cut off.

But England will be back here on November 12 against France. They have an appreciation of the conditions, the facilities and the city itself.

By then, Old Trafford will seem a long time ago for Luke Gale.