England back-rower Mike McMeeken is hoping for French success at this year’s World Cup but will face them as an opponent with England this weekend.
McMeeken, 28, has been playing in France with Catalans since the 2021 Super League season, featuring in their first-ever Grand Final that season.
England kicked off their World Cup campaign with an emphatic 60-6 victory over Samoa and face Laurent Frayssinous’ side this Saturday in Bolton in the second round of the group stages.
McMeeken will be watching his team-mates on both sides as a spectator on Saturday. He has been rested by head coach Shaun Wane, not included in the 19-man squad.
Mike McMeeken: I hope they do extremely well in this competition
“England versus France is always a great game,” said the former London Broncos and Castleford man.
“They’re a passionate bunch and they’ve got some strong individuals in their team.
“I’m sure we will be tested on Saturday. I’ve trained with them and played with them throughout the whole year so I know a lot of their strengths.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in that French team so I hope they do extremely well in this competition. Just not against us. Obviously on Saturday those friendships will be put on hold for 80 minutes.”
The back-rower is joined by club team-mates Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum in the England camp, with the side set to have a “French week” ahead of the game, according to coach Wane.
“We had a Samoan week last week, with Samoan food and chat. Now it’s over to Mike, Sam and Micky, we’ll have a French week and go into the game really confident,” Wane said.
Wane expecting more from England
Despite their impressive opening game at St James’ Park with a 10-try performance, former Wigan boss Wane still expects more from his side in the coming weeks of the tournament on home soil.
“There are things we thought we could do better,” he said.
“There’s been open chats with the players and they were very honest. They came up with some good detail on what we can improve, it wasn’t all positive.
“It’s mainly defence, we can defend better. We completed very high and didn’t give many penalties away but need to do it again on Saturday. I want better completion, less penalties, no errors, that’s the way we think.”