England need a Graham or Burgess to have a World Cup hope

George Riley
James Graham and Sam Burgess England SWpix

Sam Burgess (left) and James Graham (right) in action for England in 2018 | Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

England need a talisman like James Graham and Sam Burgess, and a lack of squad depth will see them struggle to rival Australia and New Zealand at the World Cup.

That’s the view of Andrew Henderson, assistant coach of the Combined Nations All Stars who play England this weekend in their first match of World Cup year.

Shaun Wane has struggled for time with his squad ahead of the autumn competition and is without a host of players for Saturday’s game. Henderson believes England will therefore be underdogs in their own World Cup.

“If I’m honest I think it is going to be tough for England at the World Cup” says Henderson. 

“They need their best players available, healthy and playing well. My concern is a slight lack of depth. I think you can see that in the selection for this fixture. I don’t think England have the depth of numbers of that top level of player. At this current moment it is plain to see that strength in depth is not quite there.”


England to be boosted by NRL players for World Cup

Wane will be boosted by his NRL-based players before they join France, Greece and Samoa in their World Cup group. 

But speaking on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast, former Scotland captain Henderson warns that there is a huge step up from club to international rugby league.

He continued: “There are some really good quality English players in Super League, but those who have played at international level know it’s just another step up again.

“You could be a tremendous club player but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be an international standard player. I’m just not sure England have enough of that international standard player.

“If you get their best 17 on the field then they have a genuine chance. But my worry is what is underneath and I’m not sure there is enough there.”

Andrew Henderson full of praise for England boss Shaun Wane

England do though have one of the best coaches in the game, according to Henderson, who has backed Shaun Wane to get the very best out of the squad he has available.

Henderson said: “Shaun Wane is a quality coach and I know he is passionate and instills a confidence and belief and will have his team firing. Them being under the radar might be in their favour a bit with it being a home World Cup, with that pressure and expectation. 

“If people think this is not the England of old without the Burgesses, Grahams and talismanic figures then that could work to their advantage.

“If Shaun can create confidence and belief in that group then there is no reason that they can’t surprise some teams. They will go in as underdogs though there is no doubt about that.”

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