Kristian Woolf names No 1 objective for England series as Tonga look to make amends for ‘disappointing’ World Cup

George Riley
Kristian Woolf Tonga Alamy

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf in a press conference - Alamy

Kristian Woolf has warned his star-studded Tonga squad that he wants them to feel ‘uncomfortable’ in the series against England to make up for a World Cup that ended in failure.

A much-hyped Tonga side bowed out to Samoa at the quarter-final stage last year, having been tipped by many to be genuine contenders for the trophy. Instead it was Samoa who went on a run to the final, knocking out England along the way.

And as he returns to St Helens to lead his side in Sunday’s opening match of a three-game series, Woolf has said that there is now nowhere for his players to hide in their bid to show the can compete with the very best on the international stage.

“We were disappointed with our World Cup, not just the end result and the game against Samoa,” Woolf told Love Rugby League.

“We have come over here because we want to challenge ourselves and get a little bit uncomfortable.

“We want to make up for the World Cup and not being able to be at our best.

“We want to show that we can come to this part of the world and be at our best over three games and really show what we are capable of.

“If you look through our four games I think we played near our potential in one of those. That is the number one thing we want to see, and that is to see this squad play to their potential.

“I know that if we do that we will be right in every game and giving ourselves a really good chance of winning every game as well.”

Shaun Wane wants England to right the wrongs of last year’s World Cup

Shaun Wane meanwhile has also told his side this is their chance to right the wrongs of a home World Cup that ended at the semi-final stage.

And success in this series for the England boss is about more than just winning three matches.

“There are a few England standards that we want to be about,” Wane told Love Rugby League.

“A few are personal things that we have discussed as players and as staff. If I see them then we have a chance of getting success in the game.

“These are not major technical things. It’s just effort and things like that. I want to see a team which is passionate and proud to represent England.

“We fell short at the World Cup and we have to improve. We will have to improve again to beat a talented team.”

Speaking at the pre-match press conference at The Totally Wicked Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Wane confirmed that he already knows his matchday 17 from the 24-man squad, but needs to check on the fitness of several players in camp ahead of finalising his side.

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