HAVING played against Papua New Guinean players in the past, I know all too well they punch above their weight.
It’s strange really because they’re not the biggest team – others will be bigger than them but pound-for-pound they’re one of the strongest nations, that’s for sure.
Coming through some groups will be tougher than others but in Papua New Guinea, rugby league’s the national sport and their fight against England is going to be huge.
We’ve seen images and footage of what it’s like for games there, so this quarter final will be massive in PNG.
England came through the group stages pretty comfortably but this will be a case of laying a platform and giving the half backs something to play from.
The pack will need to get on the front foot – you get over the gain line, you get quicker play the balls the pack can run on to and find spaces.
If you don’t make those yards up the middle, it’s a lot harder to create something. England will certainly be reliant on their pack getting on the front foot and then they can get it out to the likes of Dom Young.
I’m sure he’ll be looking to add to his try tally – but it all starts with that physicality.
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They’ll have to really be on the case but we saw against France they started well then let them back into it. If they’re going to make an impact on the whole competition, they’ve got to be better than that.
There’s no doubt this will be a test as when it comes to the knockout stages, it’s do or die. Lose a game and that’s you, you go out. There’s no second chance.
If England want to win the World Cup, they’ll have to win the next three games but PNG really have nothing to lose. Everyone will expect England to win and win pretty comfortably.
So PNG have an opportunity to go out and prove the doubters wrong.
If they go a try or a couple of tries up, it’s important to stick to what you know and keep that composure. If you go a score down and try and chase things, you can end up in even more trouble.
The best teams in the world – whether it’s in rugby, football, tennis or cricket – have that composure, they don’t get rattled. They know at some point they’ll break through. That’s what England have got to do, try and make sure PNG don’t get momentum.
Once England get theirs, they have to close the door – without taking anything away from France, allowing them back into it made things a lot harder.
Teams like Australia and New Zealand will give you very little. England have to keep building. Get through this game and a semi-final and hopefully by the time the final comes around, they’ll be in great form and ready to go.
Hopefully today will be a good day all round with two wins as the women play before the men – the Princess of Wales will be there.
But in World Cups, people can cause upsets – there’s no second chances from now.
JASON Robinson is an ambassador for Vodafone Business, Official Technology Partner to the RL World Cup.
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