Former Great Britain coach Brian Noble believes England have all the tools to be successful at Rugby League World Cup 2013.
Noble, who is now in charge at Salford, and who has won a Super League Grand Final with Bradford, coached the Lions to wins over Australia and New Zealand on more than one occasion.
And he believes St George’s current crop is more than capable of matching their rivals.
“I absolutely think that England have to be up there as one of the favourites,” said Noble.
“While New Zealand will be strong and bring some great athletes to the fore, and we know the strength of Australia, I’m really optimistic about what England might throw into the mix.
“Bu it’s not just one thing alone that will make the difference
“2008, for example, was a great learning curve for a lot of the players and I’m sure for Steve [McNamara] as well. Five years on they are a whole lot stronger as a group.
“We have then got players in the NRL and our best players over here are playing really well, but I think the biggest thing is the competition for places.”
And, having faced Australia as a player and a coach, Noble has a few ideas about how to stifle the Kangaroos, who enter into this autumn’s tournament as many people’s favourites to lift the trophy at Old Trafford on November 30.
“I don’t care about the World Cup when you play Australia. All I care about is beating them, and that should be the mentality for the opening game,” he said.
“It’s showtime. We’ve been getting ready for this for a while and I’m excited about what England can throw at Australia.
“My expectancies are that they will beat them, we will have a good show, and a great World Cup.
“You have to know where their threats are,” Noble added, “what Smith’s triggers are from kicking the ball out of dummy-half, when Slater is going to chime in the line and when Thurston is going to drop his shoulder and take you on.
“You can throw Greg Inglis into that as well. You don’t know what he’s going to do to you from centre or full-back or wherever he plays.
“You’re in for a tough day at the office, and what you face is a concentration challenge.
“I’m confident that Steve will prepare them team well in those respects, but when it comes down to that element of concentration every second counts.”
England face Australia at the Millennium Stadium on October 26, as part of a spectacular double header of matches which also includes Wales against Italy, and the unmissable RLWC2013 Opening Ceremony.
The hosts’ campaign continues with a clash against Ireland at the John Smith’s Stadium on November 2 and a showdown with Fiji at the KC Stadium on November 9.
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