Shaun Wane admits England used Tonga comments to fuel motivation for series-clinching victory

Drew Darbyshire
Shaun Wane England Alamy

England head coach Shaun Wane - Alamy

England coach Shaun Wane admitted he used Tonga’s comments as motivation to rally his side ahead of their series-clinching win.

England backed up their 22-18 opening win over Tonga with a 14-4 victory in the second test, wrapping up the series victory with the third and final test to be played in Leeds next Saturday.

In the post-match press conference after the first test, Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said England deserved to win but questioned referee Liam Moore and noted a difference in the ruck speed between the teams, alluding to that playing a part in the defeat. Meanwhile, skipper Addin Fonua-Blake said that England had a game plan ‘to slow the game down’.

And following their second win over Tonga, Wane admitted that he used Tonga’s comments the previous week as fuel to spur them on in the build-up – even using posters in their dressing room as a constant reminder.

“I’m really proud,” Wane said in his post-match press conference.

“I was absolutely desperate to win that game today, with the things said about my players, my team and my mates this week really upset me.

“It was a massive motivator for us on how ‘we didn’t win the game’, they don’t know Mikey (Lewis), the ground wasn’t right and every excuse about the ruck and referees cheating.

“To prove them wrong by a firm pitch, a really slow ruck, they couldn’t have anything their own way again so it just showed disrespect for my players. To get two wins, I’d be interested to see what the next excuse is.

“There’s been posters all around our dressing room and it was my easiest day ever today. It was just getting that balance about not getting too excited but we want to get the job done and the players were absolutely with me all the way.”

England boss Shaun Wane wants a 3-0 series win

England take on Tonga in the third and final test at the AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium next Saturday.

A whitewash series win is on the cards for Wane’s side, whilst Woolf’s Tonga will want to salvage some pride and head back home with a win under their belts.

Asked about them targeting a 3-0 series win, Wane replied: “Absolutely, no question about that.

“This week will be really intense week and we’ll enjoy today, but it’ll be work and we’ve got a job to do on Saturday and I know the players have been fantastic in supporting me and believing in what I’m saying.

“We have to be obsessed about them seeing the best of us on Saturday.”

Kristian Woolf reacts to defeat in second test

Speaking in his post-match press conference at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield, Woolf said he thought the ruck speed was ‘a lot more even’ this test after seeking clarity earlier in the week.

The Tonga boss said: “I thought it was a lot more even. I haven’t had a look at the numbers yet, I know there was a big difference last week in terms of the ruck speed, particularly in the second half.

“To the naked eye, I thought it looked a lot more even. We spoke to the referees during the week and the question was ‘does England need to get off quicker or do we need to stay on longer?’ and we were told that we need to stay on longer.

“At the end of the day, it’s a bit different over here than what it is in the NRL and that’s something our blokes need to adjust to.

“We’ve come over here and are playing under English conditions and I thought we adjusted there a lot better today.”

England take on Tonga in Leeds in the third and final test next Saturday, 2:30pm kick-off.

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