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Sinfield not feeling the pressure

Kevin Sinfield insists the England team will not be burdened by the weight of expectation when they take on Ireland in their second group match of the Rugby League World Cup in front of a capacity 25,000 crowd at Huddersfield on Saturday.
Sinfield not feeling the pressure
by AAP

By Ian Laybourn

HUDDERSFIELD, England, Nov 1 PA - Kevin Sinfield insists the England team will not be burdened by the weight of expectation when they take on Ireland in their second group match of the Rugby League World Cup in front of a capacity 25,000 crowd at Huddersfield on Saturday.

England managed to put the humiliation of their pre-tournament defeat by Italy behind them in pushing favourites Australia all the way in Cardiff last Saturday, but that opening 28-20 defeat has increased the pressure on them to open their account ahead of their final pool game against the dangerous Fijians.

Sinfield's men are once more cast in the role of favourites and the skipper is confident they can deliver this time.

"The group is fully concentrated on what's going on between our four walls," said Sinfield, who has spoken frequently about a siege mentality in the England camp.

"Our expectation is greater than anything that anybody externally can put on us. We just want to get out there tomorrow and perform and hopefully get the competition moving for us."

Saturday's game is the first meeting between the teams since England came from 10-4 down to beat Ireland 26-16 in the quarter-finals of the 2000 World Cup at Headingley, and Sinfield is expecting a similar test from Mark Aston's men.

"Ireland are going to turn up tomorrow and throw everything at us," he said. "We're aware of that. We're preparing for the best of Ireland but hopefully they're preparing for the best of us because it's important we go out and play like we can.

"That game back in 2000 was very physical and, if I remember rightly, the pitch was pretty waterlogged which meant it was a real forward battle. The pitch out there is in great condition and hopefully we get a decent track tomorrow and both teams can throw the ball about and play some good stuff."

England coach Steve McNamara, who has recalled Graham and has Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin back to help offset the loss of Sam Burgess to suspension, is expecting Ireland to improve from their opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji.

"We expected Ireland to be very good," he said. "They have got some real experienced NRL players and players who are regulars in Super League.

"They know a lot about us and fortunately we know a lot about them."

Probable teams:

England: S Tomkins (Wigan); R Hall (Leeds), K Watkins (Leeds), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), T Briscoe (Hull); R Chase (Castleford), K Sinfield (Leeds, capt); C Hill (Warrington), J Roby (St Helens), G Burgess (South Sydney), B Westwood (Warrington), B Ferres (Huddersfield), S O'Loughlin (Wigan). Subs: G Widdop (Melbourne), T Burgess (South Sydney), G Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), C Ablett (Leeds).

Ireland: J Mendeika (Warrington); D Blanch (Catalan Dragons), S Littler (Leigh), A Pewhairangi (Parramatta), P Richards (Wigan); B Currie (Warrington), L Finn (Featherstone, capt); B White (Canberra), R Kostjasyn (North Queensland), A Mullally (Huddersfield), S Finnigan (Leigh), D Allen (Widnes),T McCarthy (Warrington). Subs: B Beswick (Leigh), L Ambler (Halifax), K Haggerty (Barrow), J Hasson (Manly).

Referee: T Alibert (France).




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