Ratchford feels England are strong favourites

Stefan Ratchford has spoken highly of England’s chances of winning the Four Nations this year.

The hosts’ first match is against defending champions New Zealand in Huddersfield on Saturday.

England are ranked third in the world but the Warrington fullback is confident.

“I think we have got a really good chance,” Ratchford told Love Rugby League.

“There are a lot of new faces, it is quite a young squad but we’re fully confident in our ability.

“We’re sitting in camp feeling pretty confident we can go all the way.”

The 28-year old also thinks one of the main reasons why they have a strong chance is because of new head coach Wayne Bennett.

“If you look at his coaching record it kind of speaks for itself,” he said.

“He’s achieved pretty much everything wherever he has gone.

“After coaching over there, he sees these players week in, week out and knows the way these players like to play.

“Hopefully he can help us come up with some stuff that combats what they do well.”

Ratchford has missed out on selection in tomorrow’s game with Jonny Lomax expected to start at fullback.

He admits the number of NRL players in the England team will have a massive impact.

“I think the fact there are six or seven NRL boys in the team gives us a real strong chance this year,” Ratchford said.

“If you look at the squad in previous years you would probably have one or two who would have been playing in the NRL and the majority are based in Super League.”

A number of players such as 2016 Man of Steel Danny Houghton, Zak Harsaker and Saints’ star James Roby didn’t make the Four Nations squad but Ratchford believes there is more than enough quality in the current team.

“A lot of people would have said those three are probably shoo-ins for the squad but when you look at the alternatives in Josh Hodgson and Daryl Clark you can’t really complain,” he said.

“You have got Luke Gale who has been outstanding for Castleford.

“Then there is Gaz Widdop, George Williams and Kevin Brown. They are all standout players in their own right.”

In just under a year’s time, the World Cup will kick off down under.

Ratchford thinks a positive Four Nations campaign will really bolster England’s chances of making a mark in the Antipodes.

The 2017 World Cup will be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

“If we can push on this year, come up with a really strong performance and hopefully win this tournament then it will be massive for next year,” Ratchford said.

“If you keep the majority of this squad and you look at the players that have missed whether it’s because of injury or not being selected it’s going to make everyone perform well in World Cup year.”

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