Elliott Whitehead has revealed that England were confident in their defence all series that they could hold out New Zealand and defeat them.
England were dominant winners in the first Test in Hull, lost the second in London, but then ground out a tense 20-16 victory in Wigan.
“I think we had belief in the camp all the way through the series and we knew if we could keep hold of the ball a bit more tonight and do some of our best defending, and get some more points, we’d win the game,” Whitehead said.
“After last weekend we knew we could defend, we knew we could keep them out.
“They only scored one try last week.
“We were more worried about our attack all week and getting that right.
“We knew we could score some points if we could get that right, we knew we could keep them out.”
It was a dramatic ending to the match with the Kiwis trailing by 14 points with less than 10 minutes left. New Zealand crossed for two quick tries, cutting the margin to just four points, and went close to finding a winning try.
“I think with about five minutes to go they scored a try and they needed another one to win, but everyone works for each other,” Whitehead said.
“Someone goes out of the structure, that we do all week, then someone covers back and saves us.
“I think we always knew we could get back in control of the ball and keep them out.
“We knew it was going to be test all the way through and they showed that right to the end.
“I think we stuck to our guns and got there in the end.”
Whitehead is off to the NRL to join the Canberra Raiders. The forward bagged two tries in the win at the DW Stadium and he said it is the perfect way to leave the UK.
“It’s good to go out with some silverware,” he said.
“It’s probably the first bit of silverware I’ve won, and to leave to go to Australia on that note is a good achievement for myself.
“But I’m proud of all the boys and the effort they gave tonight.
“I just want to say thank you to them.”
Whitehead scored three tries in the series and started all three Tests.
The former Catalans back-rower described the third Test as his best performance of the series.
“I feel like the first two games I haven’t been as involved as much as I want to be, but I feel today I was,” the 26-year old said.