England boss Shaun Wane defended his side after yesterday’s victory against Tonga, insisting that Harry Newman’s try – his ‘favourite’ moment – dispels any doubt over their entertainment value
Leeds Rhinos starlet Newman finished off an off-the-cuff move of beauty in familiar territory at Headingley 15 minutes before the final hooter, grabbing England’s last try of the game and the three-part series.
Mike McMeeken, Harry Smith, Ben Currie, Jack Welsby, Elliott Whitehead and Tom Johnstone were all involved, with Wigan Warriors youngster Smith – the Player of the Series – executing an inch-perfect cross-field kick into Newman’s arms to allow the Rhinos ace to dive over having side-stepped Tonga’s Moses Suli.
That extended the scoreline out to 26-0, and though the visitors pulled a try back late on, England wrapped up a 3-0 series whitewash in style having already got the better of their Pacific counterparts in St Helens & Huddersfield.
England head coach Shaun Wane hits back at criticism
Criticism has been levelled at the series throughout the last three weeks, with many knocking the crowds, the quality on show from both teams, and the overall lack of entertainment value.
Post-match at Headingley, when we here at Love Rugby League asked Wane for his thoughts on the try, he took the opportunity to respond to some of that criticism.
The England chief said: “That was my favourite bit. That’s Lee Briers, that’s not me. The talent the players have got, to execute on the highest stage in a test match against Tonga was an outstanding try.
“We’ve had comments from ex-players talking absolute rubbish about not entertaining. They don’t think about test matches and they don’t think about the weather, and all of a sudden it’s a bit dry and we score tries like that.
“It just beggars belief when I hear stupid comments like that from past players.”
Wane praises backroom team after series whitewash is sealed
59-year-old Wane added Warrington Wolves legend Briers to his backroom staff ahead of this autumn series against the Tongans, assuming an assistant’s role alongside newly-appointed Catalans Dragons number two Andy Last.
Briers left his role as Matt Peet’s assistant at Wigan at the end of the 2022 season to take up a coaching opportunity over in the NRL with Brisbane Broncos, who went on to reach the Grand Final this term Down Under.
At Headingley yesterday, Wane had only positive things to say about his autumn addition, adding: “He’s been really good, and so has Lasty, they are two really good coaches.
“I’m not ready to finish yet, these four weeks have been simple, as is best, all about doing the simple things well and then building on that. We’ve had a great time.”