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England shake off RLWC warm-up loss

England coach Steve McNamara is adamant his side remains on track for a strong showing against Australia on Saturday despite a disastrous World Cup warm-up.
England shake off RLWC warm-up loss
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

MANCHESTER, England, Oct 21 AAP - England coach Steve McNamara is adamant his side remains on track for a strong showing against Australia on Saturday despite a disastrous World Cup warm-up.

England fell 15-14 in trial against 500-1 tournament outsiders Italy on Saturday in a performance captain Kevin Sinfield described as embarrassing.

However, McNamara says his side has already shaken off the defeat and believes the co-hosts can take the game to the tournament favourites in the opening match in Cardiff.

"We came up with a performance that wasn't great, but one that hopefully, as the tournament unfolds, will put us in a better position to win it," McNamara said at the official launch of rugby league's showpiece event on Monday.

"The game was designed to blow some cobwebs away and hopefully build some combinations. We didn't quite do that - we didn't quite find our rhythm - but, certainly in the process of everything involved, it won't do us any harm.

"We've looked at that as a group and we're happy that we're in a position to move forward and perform very well this week."

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens watched England's loss from the stands and stressed the performance had little relevance.

"Italy used 24 (players), England used 20 and conditions were tough," Sheens told AAP.

"Obviously Steve will be disappointed they didn't win but an embarrassed side is a dangerous side. If anything, it's going to motivate the boys.

"You're talking about a trial match compared to a Test match. I know how they'll be."

Impressive performances by Warriors-bound fullback Sam Tomkins and South Sydney star Sam Burgess caught Sheens' eye, reaffirming his belief they present the biggest threat to his side.

George Burgess also played against Italy and the duo could be joined by brother Tom, who played for England Knights in their 52-16 thrashing of Samoa and is one of several players in contention for a recall.

McNamara also said Wigan forward Sean O'Loughlin would come into the reckoning after being rested for the warm-up game, and hinted Warrington second rower Ben Westwood would return after missing that match through suspension.




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