Ellery Hanley says England need a proper World Cup test from Papua New Guinea

Former Great Britain captain and coach Ellery Hanley says England will get the test they need if they are to win the World Cup when they take on Papua New Guinea in the quarter-finals at Wigan on Saturday afternoon.

Shaun Wane’s men have breezed into the knockout stages, amassing 196 points in their group games against Samoa, France and Greece, but Hanley is not getting carried away by their performances just yet.

“England have a wonderful collection of players,” Hanley told the PA news agency.

“They have a good pack in terms of laying the platform and they’ve got some wonderful backs, as we’ve seen in Dom Young and the rest – they have been absolutely magnificent – but they haven’t been tested yet.

England celebrate
England are into the quarter-finals (Tim Goode/PA)

“I think Papua New Guinea will give them a test. They won’t beat them but England need this game, they need to harden themselves to make sure they’re really on point with regard to the accuracy of everything they do on the paddock.”

Hanley is hoping for some competitive fixtures in the knockout stages after a series of blow-out scores in the group games.

Holders and favourites Australia take on Lebanon in Huddersfield on Friday night, with New Zealand facing Fiji 24 hours later in Hull and Samoa and Tonga doing battle at Warrington on Sunday.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed in terms of the scorelines in the group stages,” Hanley said.

“The margins for me were way too big. I don’t think the spectators want to see teams get beaten by 80 and 90 points.

“I’m a bit of a purist so I would love to have seen closer games but it’s not a level playing field. Some of the minnows have amateur and semi-professional players who are going up against the world’s best and there is an obvious a gulf in class.

“It’s great for them to have the chance to test themselves but playing against full-time players is so difficult.

“Now we’re in the knockout stages, it should be much more competitive but I expect England, Australia and New Zealand to go through because they’re better equipped individually.

“Samoa and Tonga could be a tight game. I was worried about Samoa after that first game against England but they’ve improved and it will boil down to who makes the least amount of errors.

“England are very fortunate that they don’t have to play New Zealand or Australia until the final. I say that with respect to the other teams still involved but I think they have the easier route.

“Australia are better equipped to play back-to-back intense rugby league so you’d have to have them as favourites.”

Hanley was speaking at Redwood Special School in Rochdale at an event to mark the start of the Wheelchair World Cup designed to attract more people to the sport.

“It’s a wonderful spectator sport and so inclusive and accessible,” said Hanley, an ambassador for the National Lottery investment into wheelchair rugby league, who took to a chair himself to try out the sport.

“You only have to be around them to see the thrill from all the players involved, the excitement and competitiveness is magnificent. You’re thinking ‘how good is this?’ I’m actually hooked on it.”

:: National Lottery players are providing over £9.3m of support to rugby league between 2022-2027 to aid the development of of the game across the country. This includes £750,000 to support communities across England through the RLWC21 CreatedBy Grants Programme as well as providing vital funding for the women’s and girls’ game during the pandemic.