RUGBY : England coach Tony Smith described his side’s win over New Zealand as a “shot in the arm” for the northern hemisphere – but insisted there were no celebrations after they clinched a place in the Gillette Four Nations final.
England coach Tony Smith described his side’s win over New Zealand as a “shot in the arm” for the northern hemisphere – but insisted there were no celebrations after they clinched a place in the Gillette Four Nations final.
Smith’s men defeated World Cup winners New Zealand 20-12 at Huddersfield to set up a showdown with Australia at Elland Road next Saturday, when they will seek to improve on their 26-16 defeat in Wigan.
“It’s a real shot in the arm for the game in the northern hemisphere and for Super League,” said Smith. “The southern hemisphere are always favourites in our sport, and to beat them to the final is a feat in itself – but we’re not satisfied yet.”
He added: “The players are really pleased to make the final – but we’re not done yet. That was part of the motivation tonight – we wanted another crack at Australia.
“We felt we did not do ourselves justice in the first half last week and we want to put together two decent halves of rugby league and see where it takes us.”
Winger Peter Fox marked his recall with a crucial two-try burst just before half-time. But England’s heroes with their forwards, who won a war of attrition with their Kiwi counterparts.
It was also a victory for the tactics of Smith, whose late switch of Kevin Sinfield to hooker enabled him to start with the imposing Sam Burgess at loose forward and sparked a man-of-the-match display from the Leeds Rhinos captain.
“Sometimes you get them right and take plaudits; other times you get them wrong and get kicked to death,” said Smith, who made his tactical switch two days before the match.
“Kevin had a mixed start to the game but got better as it went on. He’s a smart player, and it was a logical place to put him.
“Whether or not he plays there next week, we’ll decide after looking at the video. It could be horses for courses.”