England wheelchair player James Simpson looked ahead to tonight’s huge wheelchair final against France and explained how his England side are not feeling any extra pressure ahead of the game.
England wheelchair secured their place in the final after a resounding 125-22 victory against Wales. It set up a clash with holders France who dispatched Australia 84-40 in the other semi-final.
Despite being the final host nation in with a chance to lift a trophy, Simpson insists the team aren’t feeling any extra pressure heading into a big 80 minutes.
“We just don’t feel it,” a relaxed Simpson said. “We’re all one big family within the England set up and everyone supports everyone. We’re not suddenly under this extra pressure to win because the other teams didn’t make it (England Men & Women).
“It’s not a conversation that crops up and it’s certainly something that I don’t feel either.”
Is the level of physical collisions putting off spectators from getting into disability rugby league?
Simpson does not believe that the level of physicality on show in the elite game should discourage newcomers from getting involved in the sport.
It follows comments made by France head coach Sylvain Crismanovich, who shared his concerns of the impact non-disabled players are having on the sport.
“I remind people that you’re watching the tip of the spear of the game, that’s just inevitable with the speed, the agility and the way that people move, that chairs are going to hit each other quite hard.
“You don’t get that at the grassroots level. You get it slower, more inclusive where people aren’t there smashing each other. They’re just there to have fun, get in shape and stay fit.”
James Simpson on able bodied players in the wheelchair game and the inclusivity of the sport
He continued: “For me the inclusivity of the game is what makes the game what it is. Look at the guy next to me (Declan Roberts). He played against his dad in an international game, which you wouldn’t get to do anywhere else.
“You only have to look at Jack Brown, his brother Harry who lost both his legs. It gave them an opportunity to play a sport together. I’d argue that Harry might not have got into sport if his older brother didn’t pull him along to go and be there.”
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