New wing star Dom Young says he will not be distracted by the race to become the World Cup’s leading try-scorer as England close in on a second successive final appearance.
England maintained their impressive run in the competition with a 46-6 quarter-final win over Papua New Guinea in Wigan at the weekend and will now play Samoa at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Saturday for a place in the final.
Young, who has become a try-scoring sensation in the NRL with Newcastle Knights, topped the World Cup chart after the pool stages on eight tries after scoring four against Greece but was overtaken at the weekend by Australia’s speed merchant Josh Addo-Carr.
Addo-Carr scored five in the Kangaroos’ 48-4 quarter-final win over Lebanon in Huddersfield, taking his tally to 11 and to within one of the record set by his team-mate Valentine Holmes in 2017, while Young clawed one back against the Kumuls.
“I don’t keep an eye on it too much,” Young said. “Obviously it’s nice to score tries and I guess it would be nice to catch him up.
“But I’m not too fussed about it. As long the the team is doing well, that’s the main focus.”
The former Huddersfield player was the talk of the tournament after making his mark in each of England’s three group matches but was forced to take a back seat at the DW Stadium as team-mate Tom Makinson ran riot on the other flank.
The St Helens winger became the first England player to score five tries in a World Cup match – he also kicked five conversions for an individual haul of 30 points – to join the race to become the tournament’s top try-scorer with seven overall.
“The ball was going left a lot,” Young said. “I definitely wouldn’t have minded a bit more ball but, at the end of the day, it worked so I can’t complain too much.”
The excellent performances of Young and Makinson have kept England’s all-time record try-scorer Ryan Hall out of the team and coach Shaun Wane will be loathe to make any changes for the semi-final.
Young modestly plays down the achievements, insisting the glut of try-scoring opportunities is a by-product of the strong foundations laid by England’s pack, allied to the creative skills of midfield triangle George Williams, Jack Welsby and Sam Tomkins.
“It’s just credit to the team and all the players in that spine,” he said. “We’ve got the easy job of just putting the ball over the line.
“They’re doing all the work, the forwards are laying a platform and we’re just finishing.”
England never looked back against Papua New Guinea after making their customary fast start and Young has praised the impact of the near-capacity crowd of 23, 179 in Wigan, which included the Princess of Wales in her role of patron of the Rugby Football League.
“It definitely spurred us on,” he said. “It doesn’t really get much better to be fair.
“I can’t really describe the feeling walking and hearing the fans and representing your country.
“The start was really positive. We always knew they going to come out aggressive and it was about taking it to them.
“It was a good performance by the boys, now I can’t wait for the semi.
“It’s obviously another tough opponent but hopefully we can go all the way. I’ve never been to the Emirates so I’m looking forward to that. I’m sure it will be a good occasion.”