England centre Michael Shenton is expecting England to put on a big performance in their showdown fixture with Australia at AAMI Stadium, Melbourne on Sunday and believes the England squad can only go from strength to strength.
Shenton was instrumental in helping spark England’s revival during their opening Four Nations contest against New Zealand, after his solo break eventually set up Gareth Widdop for the tourist’s first try of the tournament and instigated a period of domination for the English side which almost saw them overhaul an 18 point deficit.
However the centre, who has recently signed for Super League side St Helens, has had his Four Nations tournament come to a premature end following an ankle ligament injury picked up during the first half of the New Zealand game.
“It’s the end of the series for me and to say I’m very disappointed is an understatement,” said Shenton. “Disappointed doesn’t do justice to how I feel.
“The only upside is that my injury gives someone else in the squad their opportunity to play against Australia so this has probably made someone’s tournament and ruined mine.”
Shenton picked up the injury during the first half of the New Zealand game but his determination to play on and his second half heroics were a major factor in England finding the sort of continuity that almost saw them overturn an 18-0 half-time deficit.
“I felt really fresh going into the New Zealand game,” he said. “But I suspected there was something seriously wrong when I injured the ankle in the first half.
“We got into the dressing rooms at half-time and it was badly swollen. I told the medical staff I wanted to play so they strapped it for me and gave me painkillers. It was still painful but once you get out there playing against opposition of the quality of the Kiwis you quickly forget how much you hurt.
“You can’t afford not to be fully focused in a Test match and that focus helps you play through injury but as soon as the match was over and the strapping was taken off my ankle ballooned.”
Following the injury, Shenton has remained in the England team camp this week where he intends to remain until after England’s crucial encounter with Australia and Shenton believes the spirit in camp could help drive the England team to victory.
“It was good still being part of the camp in the immediate aftermath of the injury but after a while you feel like a bit of a spare part,” said Shenton. “The nearer it gets to game day, the more you feel you are getting in the way. It gets you down after a while.
“I love to be involved in these scenarios, not be an observer, however I’m going to stay on and do what I can to help the boys this weekend before I fly home early next week. It would be fantastic to leave behind a team who have just beaten the Aussies.
“I think the boys will go well this weekend and the experience of the last few weeks will stand us in good stead for years to come. There is a fantastic buzz in the camp and everyone is getting on really well, both on and off the field. We have done a lot of team building activities while we have been in New Zealand and Australia and I think they’ve been really beneficial.
“There were times against New Zealand when the strong bond you get from working hard and playing hard together shone through. By the end all the guys showed they were up to playing at Test level and by the time Sunday comes we’ll have become even stronger as a unit and come next year, when the players who have missed this trip through injury are fit and well, we’ll have a really strong squad.”