Rugby League World Cup: England no longer starstruck by New Zealand, says Tara-Jane Stanley

3 min read

Venue: York Community Stadium, York Date: Monday,14 November Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and online; Live commentary on Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; Live text and highlights on BBC Sport website & app

England centre Tara-Jane Stanley says they are no longer starstruck by facing the southern hemisphere giants at the Rugby League World Cup.

The only team from the northern hemisphere to have reached the World Cup final was Great Britain at the inaugural tournament in 2000.

Now this year’s hosts England play New Zealand in Monday’s semi-finals.

“I think in the past there have been people who have idolised them but these days we’re all about us,” said Stanley.

She added: “Everyone who pulls on an England shirt believes we are going to win. We’ve worked a lot on our core skills and maybe in the past that was something we didn’t focus on enough.

“We were worrying too much about what the opponents were going to bring against us. We’ve learned to focus on ourselves and it’s working.

“We love watching the NRLW. It’s a great game but you can get fixated on it and that’s not what this squad is about this time. We respect them and we understand what they do, but we’re confident in ourselves.

“We’ve spoken about winning it and deep down, I don’t know whether that true belief was there before, especially against the southern hemisphere teams. But now it really is.”

‘We expect a big performance from New Zealand – and they should from us’

Great Britain/England have been beaten by New Zealand in each of the last five tournaments and most of the Kiwis’ squad plays in Australia’s NRLW.

The three-time winners have lost to Australia in the last two finals, but England captain Emily Rudge says the hosts “definitely won’t feel like we’re the underdogs” in York.

“Traditionally, we are underdogs, but with it being a home World Cup we have got a lot of support and we’ll have a lot of people in the crowd supporting us,” she added.

“New Zealand want to get through to the final as much as we do so we’re expecting a big performance from them – and I think they should expect the same from us.

“We’ve come off the back of three good wins and a physical game against Papua New Guinea, which did test us a bit more than the other two.”

Vicky Molyneux returns to England’s 19-strong squad after missing Wednesday’s 42-4 win against PNG.

The following night New Zealand were beaten 10-8 by Australia in their final group game but Kiwis’ prop Amber Hall, 27, was named player of the match.

“Amber is one of the best players in the world and I’m really pleased that she’s on our team – I’d hate to be standing opposite her,” said New Zealand coach Ricky Henry.

“Amber has done some great stuff, not just here but at previous World Cups, and she has got a massive reputation.

“But we know we are going to have to get our bodies right and play really well if we are going to beat England.”

Australia face PNG in the first semi-final at York (17:00 GMT) before England face New Zealand (19:30), with the winners to meet in next Saturday’s final at Old Trafford (13:15).

England squad

Tara-Jane Stanley, Caitlin Beevers, Fran Goldthorp, Amy Hardcastle, Leah Burke, Georgia Roche, Courtney Winfield-Hill, Grace Field, Tara Jones, Hollie Dodd, Emily Rudge (captain), Jodie Cunningham, Vicky Molyneux, Vicky Whitfield, Shona Hoyle, Olivia Wood, Paige Travis, Keara Bennett, Zoe Harris.

New Zealand squad

Madison Bartlett, Brianna Clark, Georgia Hale, Amber-Paris Hall, Mya Hill-Moana, Mele Hufanga, Nita Maynard, Page McGregor, Raecene McGregor, Roxette Murdoch-Masila, Apii Nicholls, Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, Otesa Pule, Abigail Roache, Krystal Rota, Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly, Charlotte Scanlan, Christyl Stowers, Katelyn Vaha’akolo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *