England have huge opportunity to win World Cup – Rowley

Former England hooker Paul Rowley believes the current crop of England players have the best opportunity of winning the World Cup.

Rowley, who played against Australia, Russia and Ireland at the 2000 World Cup, feels that the pressure is on England to succeed in the tournament which kicks off in less than 100 days.

“I think they’ve got a huge opportunity to win the World Cup,” said the former England international. “I don’t think they’ve ever had a better squad that they’ve got now at their disposal. I don’t think they’ve ever chucked as much resource and finance at the England squad before, in terms of the training camps they’ve had and the trips to South Africa for altitude training. It’s a massive cost, there’s a real pressure on England to succeed in this cup.”

A 16-8 defeat to Australia in the 1995 final is the closest England have come to lifting the trophy with two semi final exits in 2000 and 2008 the best they have mustered since, although Great Britain did win the competition in 1954 and 1972.

With the addition of former Wigan Warriors coach Paul Deacon to Steve McNamara’s coaching staff last month and confidence high within the squad, Rowley thinks England need to be nailing a final spot.

He said: “I think they should breeze the semi finals. Anything other than a near miss in the semi finals won’t be good enough, at the end of the day there are only three teams in the mix. They’ve really got to be nailing a final spot, the players are good enough, they’ve got players in the Burgess brothers who are playing in the NRL competition. We’ve got the best squad that I’ve known since I’ve been watching that’s for sure.”

England and Australia will contest the opening match of the fourteenth World Cup this autumn on the 26th October at the Millennium Stadium.

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