Rugby League - Watkins: Team spirit crucial

England centre Kallum Watkins believes the team spirit fostered by a touring camp mentality will give his side every chance of going on to win the World Cup.

PA Sport
Rugby League - Watkins: Team spirit crucial
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Kallum Watkins - drawing on the positives

Although England are the co-hosts with Wales, the players are spending very little time at home and Watkins admits family life is taking a back seat during the tournament.

Since returning from a two-week training camp in South Africa, Steve McNamara's squad have been largely ensconced in familiar surroundings at Loughborough University, which has been a regular venue for their get-togethers over the last two years and has become their home for the five-week tournament

"All the players are making sacrifices," Watkins said. "Being away from your family pretty much all week, you're only seeing them once a week.

"That's the commitment you have to have when you are trying to win the World Cup and I think everyone has bought into this pretty well. It's really important in terms of our team spirit and togetherness which will help us on the way."

England's preparations suffered a blow with their defeat by minnows Italy in a World Cup warm-up fixture and revelations of a drinking session in the aftermath of that match threatened to further derail their campaign.

But McNamara's men produced an encouraging display in their opening 28-20 defeat by World Cup favourites Australia and Watkins believes they can build on that when they meet Ireland in their second group A game in front of a full house at Huddersfield on Saturday.

"Our response to Italy was pretty good," the Leeds threequarter said. "We didn't get the result against Australia, which was obviously a bit disappointing, but we can take some positives from how well we started and we work on things that can help us build in this tournament.

"We can build from that, we've certainly got the players to do that."

Watkins ended the domestic season troubled by knee and hip injuries but acquitted himself well against menacing Kangaroos centre Greg Inglis at the Millennium Stadium and looks certain to keep his spot to face the Irish.

"I thought I did a decent job," he said. "It was a big confidence boost for me. Hopefully I can continually improve and make myself a better player from that."

England are expected to get off the mark against the Irish, who were beaten 32-14 by Fiji in their opening match on Monday but Watkins says there is no chance of them under-estimating their opponents.

"You can't afford to get complacent, as it showed against Italy," he said. "Ireland played well, they were just unlucky with the result.

"They have a good mix of youth and experience. It's going to be a tough game.

"It's a sell-out crowd at Huddersfield so it should be really inspiring for everyone that's playing in the game."

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