England’s 10-try demolition of Samoa in their opening game of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup gave the hosts a perfect start to the tournament, but as we look forward to their next game against France they may face a different challenge.
Overcoming a Samoa side packed with NRL talent will have been an excellent confidence booster for Shaun Wane’s side, and when they travel to Bolton on Saturday afternoon they will look to capitalise on the opening day success.
England challenged their own nickname, the Wall of White, as their backs blew away their opposition with some excellent attacking rugby in a game that many thought would be dominated by the forwards.
Dom Young’s scintillating performance on the wing was the explosive display England were hoping for, and Tommy Makinson contributed 24 points on his own.
Alongside Makinson and Young, Elliot Whitehead and Jack Welsby were influential, with the latter beginning to show his immense talent on the international stage scoring the opener and setting up three more.
However looking towards this weekend, England must not underestimate a France side who are on the rise.
The French Rugby League secured the rights to host the next World Cup in 2025 and have ambitiously appointed a new director of Rugby in three-time NRL winner Trent Robinson.
However France’s recent inclusion in the Super League has been contentious, as rival clubs have questioned the benefit of including French sides in the contest, and their spearhead side, Toulouse Olympique, were relegated after just one season.
But their national side is led by Laurent Frayssinous, who had a distinguished career for The Catalan Dragons and his national side, and boasts a squad packed with Super League Experience.
Despite not having the influential Theo Fages in the halves the young pairing of Arthur Mourgue and César Rougé played important roles in France’s win over Greece and are at the forefront of France’s rugby league development.
Les Chanticleers relied on power and muscle to overcome a spirited opposition side but seemed to be relatively one dimensional in their attacks.
It is obvious that France will need to invoke a lot more poise and imagination to trouble England and, after leaking 14 points to Greece, will definitely need to sure up their defence on order to challenge such a top side.
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