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England talk up RLWC chances despite loss

England captain Kevin Sinfield hopes to run into Australia again at the Rugby League World Cup, feeling his men have proved they can match it with the tournament favourites.
England talk up RLWC chances despite loss
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

CARDIFF, Oct 26 AAP - England captain Kevin Sinfield hopes to run into Australia again at the Rugby League World Cup, feeling his men have proved they can match it with the tournament favourites.

England let a huge chance slip on Saturday, surrendering a 10-0 first-half lead in a 28-20 loss to the Kangaroos in the tournament opener in Cardiff.

The defeat means England are now likely to face reigning champions New Zealand in the semi-finals and they could conceivably face Australia again in the final.

Taking plenty of positives out of a gallant performance that came despite a troubled build-up, Sinfield said England would be confident facing either of the tournament's big guns.

"The group we have got is going to get better, a whole lot better," the Leeds Rhinos star said.

"We have a strong squad, and if we are good enough over the next couple of weeks, hopefully we will get another shot at Australia.

"Whichever route we go on in this tournament there are going to be obstacles in our way.

"We are ready to roll our sleeves up and work as hard as we can, and hopefully get the result next week (group match against Ireland).

"We have been beaten today, but we certainly won't throw the towel in."

England endured a disrupted preparation, losing a warm-up game to Italy while coach Steve McNamara had to deal with off-field distractions surrounding Gareth Hock's axing and James Graham's omission from game one.

McNamara, though, remained confident throughout he had a squad that could challenge for the title.

"I've always thought we have a team that is capable of potentially winning this competition if it concentrates and plays to its best, and it has to do that in every game," he added.

"We were a bit off today. We gave far too many penalties away and gave up some field position quite easily, but every time we got to the right end of the field we seemed to trouble Australia.

"... We think we can beat them because we've got a lot more left in us."

McNamara was thrilled with an eye-catching debut from George Burgess, who joined siblings and South Sydney teammates Sam and Tom in becoming the first trio of brothers to play in the same England team.

George, 21, scored one try, narrowly missed another and contributed 14 hit-ups and 25 tackles.

"He was very, very good. He was a handful for the opposition all day and what a great way to make his debut," McNamara said.

McNamara could be without older sibling Sam for the clash with Ireland, though, after he was placed on report for a high shot on Sam Thaiday.

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