Play­ers can’t tread wa­ter in tal­ent pool

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - JUSTIN CHAD­WICK

ENG­LAND hooker Josh Hodg­son be­lieves the com­pe­ti­tion for spots within the team is as hot as he has seen, and he hopes it will help carry his side to suc­cess dur­ing the Rugby League World Cup.

Aus­tralia re­main hot favourites to win the tour­na­ment, but Eng­land are qui­etly con­fi­dent of up­set­ting the hosts if they meet again dur­ing the knock­out stages.

The Kan­ga­roos beat Eng­land 18-4 in a tight tour­na­ment opener that was only de­cided in the last six min­utes.

Aus­tralia have al­ready qual­i­fied for the quar­ter-fi­nals, while Eng­land are al­most cer­tain to join them in the last eight – even if they suf­fer a shock loss to France in Perth tonight.

Hodg­son has been rested for tonight’s match as coach Wayne Ben­nett ro­tates his squad to make sure ev­ery­one has some game time lead­ing into the knock­out stages.

Com­pe­ti­tion for spots within the Eng­land squad has been in­tense and Hodg­son says that will be to their ad­van­tage.

“The com­pe­ti­tion for places is al­ways healthy,” he said.

“It cre­ates a hard-work­ing group and keeps you on your toes.

“It stops you from get­ting com­fort­able.

“This year is prob­a­bly the high­est I’ve seen for the past four years I’ve been in­volved in the squad.”

Ben­nett is con­fi­dent star duo Sam Burgess (knee) and Jonny Lo­max (calf) will be fit to re­turn for next week’s quar­ter-fi­nals.

PRES­SURE: Josh Hodg­son.

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