Wayne Bennett said post-match last week that this is an England team we should be proud of — and I fully agree.
It’s not often you get a game where every player from 1-17 performs well, but that’s what we had in the opening Test win in Hull.
This is a team that played exceptionally well in last year’s World Cup before falling just short in the final, and since then has backed that up with two wins over New Zealand, in June and then last week.
In fact, you can chart the consistency back to the mid-season test against Samoa in Australia last year – which is testament both to what Wayne has brought to the group, and the ability of the players themselves.
To put last week into context, this wasn’t a New Zealand side that played poorly – their completion rate was up around 80% and they created chances.
We just edged them in terms of performance, and I don’t think the Kiwis will have been doing any soul-searching, they’ll just be looking to tweak a few things and be better in Sunday’s second Test.
But so will we – some of the cohesion in attack and our kicking game are two areas that the players have worked hard on.
It will be interesting to see how Adam Milner does after being called into the side – he’s got all the characteristics Wayne likes in a player, always gives his best and isn’t frightened about getting hurt.
Playing this game at Anfield also gives our leading athletes a fitting stage to play on.
I’m expecting a test match every bit as exciting and close as the first one.
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