10th November 2017, 09:54 | englandrl

O'Loughlin calls for commanding display

O'Loughlin calls for commanding display

England will be aiming to produce their best performance of the World Cup when they meet France on Sunday, says captain Sean O'Loughlin.

Wayne Bennett's men have hardly set the tournament alight during their first two games against Australia and Lebanon and O'Loughlin wants them to kick on in their final group match against the French at the Rectangular Stadium.

"It was disappointing not to get the result from the Australia game, but the performance was reasonably good and it was probably a little bit vice versa in the second game," the Wigan loose forward said.

"This week it's about getting the win, but also improving our performance."

Bennett is taking the opportunity to introduce fresh blood for a match England are expected to win comfortably, but O'Loughlin does not expect the changes to disrupt their preparations for the knockout stages.

With Gareth Widdop switching to full-back, Kevin Brown and George Williams will have a chance to press their claims for a place in the half-backs alongside Luke Gale.

"The boys who haven't played are excited to get their chance," O'Loughlin said. "I don't think the changes will affect our combinations too much.

"Obviously we've got Gaz at one, but he'll still be in the halves. Kev is coming in, but he and Luke played together against Samoa and George will get his chance as well.

"They've been mixing it up in training so they're all pretty familiar with each other.

"Wayne has probably got in his mind who he thinks is his first choice, but a few might give him some headaches this week."

Brown, who will win his seventh cap at the age of 33, is keen to seize his opportunity to put some pressure on Bennett.

"I can't wait," he said. "It's been a couple of weeks since I've had a game so I'm excited.

"It's the pinnacle of my career playing for my country, so whatever chance I get to play in a Test I'm buzzing. To play in a World Cup it makes it that extra bit special.

"Obviously it's been frustrating wanting to play, but I understand we've got a fantastic squad and I had to wait for my chance.

"We've got the current Man of Steel and the Dally M six, so I expected to have to put some work in. Hopefully I can take my chance now and put some pressure on Wayne when he picks the side for the quarter-finals."

O'Loughlin, who turns 35 later this month, was spotted during England's open training session in Fremantle sitting out the more strenuous aspects, but he has not entertained the thought of sitting out the France game.

"Wayne picks his own side," he said. "I wouldn't fancy saying that to him.

"The boys that are being rested have played a lot of rugby right to at the end of the season so there is a bit of sense behind that. But for the majority of the boys it's a case of keep playing, keep ticking over in the team.

"With the age thing, I sometimes skip little bits out in training. They look after me. But the body feels good and hopefully I can finish the tournament strong."