OPINION COLUMN: England can go all the way

The England squad for the World Cup is the strongest that we have had since the days of Great Britain.

And I’m not even over exaggerating it.

Of course, there is always debate when a squad is announced with players who have been left out but instead of looking at who is not included, let’s look at the positives and look who is in it.

England had five fantastic full-backs, yes five, to choose from in Zak Hardaker, Stefan Ratchford, Jonny Lomax, Sam Tomkins and Jamie Shaul. Fair enough, Hardaker would’ve been first choice but it wasn’t to be.

In the past, England and Great Britain sides have lacked strength in depth in the outside backs but Jermaine McGillvary and Ryan Hall are solid and very consistent choices to have as the wingers while centres Kallum Watkins and Mark Percival deserve to be in the squad after great seasons for Leeds Rhinos and St Helens respectively.

Do England have the best half-backs in the tournament? It is certainly up there for question. Gareth Widdop was voted Dally M Half-Back of the Year in the NRL following a marvellous season with St George Illawarra Dragons while Luke Gale won the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.

It isn’t bad at all when Wigan Warriors star George Williams is your back-up option is it? That boy will go onto great things in the game.

And the Three Lions have got brilliant hookers as well in NRL ace Josh Hodgson and St Helens captain James Roby.

Head coach Wayne Bennett has some very solid options in the pack as well. Chris Hill is a great prop and does all of the donkey work alongside James Graham, who is scary when carrying the ball.

There are plenty of options to choose from in the back-row as well, with Elliott Whitehead, John Bateman, Ben Currie and Sam Burgess all being able to play there – and you would be confident if any of those mentioned starts there.

And Sean O’Loughlin is captain fantastic. He makes a massive difference to Wigan when he is on the field by his maturity and knowledge of the game and he will no doubt do the same for England. It will be probably be his last World Cup so it would be nice to reward his services to Super League if he got to lift the World Cup trophy.

If you think England can do it, pick up a Winner Coupon Code and put your money where your mouth is.

And in this discussion, we haven’t even named the likes of Tom Burgess, Chris Heighington, Mike McMeeken, Scott Taylor and Alex Walmsley who can all make a massive impact coming off the bench.

Bennett will probably welcome the headache of having to pick a 17-man team out of that very, very impressive 24-man squad.

On paper, England’s squad this year is definitely up there with Australia and personally, think it is better than the rest of the competition including New Zealand as well as the much talked about Tonga and Samoa.

As a journalist and a fan of Rugby League, it would be great to see England triumphant in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup but obviously it won’t be easy.

However, we can genuinely feel confident going into the big games against the Kangaroos and Kiwis this time around. When was the last time we were able to say that?

Let’s big up who is in our team, rather than moaning about who isn’t.

England can win it.

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