Morley wary of French threat
10th November 2012
Veteran England forward Adrian Morley is warning his team-mates to expect a “fired-up” France in tomorrow’s final of the autumn international series at the Salford City Stadium.
England are overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy after rattling up 124 points in their two matches so far while France are licking their wounds from last week’s 44-6 defeat in Hull.
However, the French were forced to re-shuffle their team after losing full-back Cyril Stacul to injury early in the game and Morley expects them to be better placed to make England fight for the spoils in the final.
“They showed how passionate they were last weekend and they’ve got a few players back,” Morley said.
“The fact they lost their full-back didn’t do them any favours. They are going to improve on last week and the fact that there is a trophy at stake means there is a little bit more spice there.
“I think they’re going to come very spirited and be up for a game. They they can certainly improve and I think we can improve as well.
“I think our defence was great but our attack wasn’t so great so it’s a chance to improve there.”
While France coach Aurelien Cologni must plug the gaps caused by the loss of Stacul and his Catalan Dragons team-mates Gregory Mounis and Mickael Simon, England boss Steve McNamara is picking from a full-strength squad.
Wigan Warriors loose forward Sean O’Loughlin is back in the frame after recovering from a hamstring strain sustained in England’s opening 80-12 rout of Wales and Castleford half-back Rangi Chase is also named in a 20-man squad after completing his recovery from a groin injury.
McNamara must also decide which winger to leave out, with Wigan’s Josh Charnley back in contention after sitting out the game at Craven Park.
“It will be a tough decision to make but all the players have the right qualities to pull on an England shirt,” McNamara said.
The game will be England’s last full international before the 2013 World Cup and Morley, who has not given up hope of playing next year, insists the autumn international series has been worthwhile.
He said: “It’s got its knockers but, if Australia and New Zealand don’t want to play us, what do you do?
“It’s important that you give the lads in England a chance to represent their country and it’s good for the Welsh and the French to gauge where they’re at.
“It’s important we spend time in each other’s company, getting the training and combinations going for not only this tournament but future tournaments, so I think it’s been extremely worthwhile.”
The series is only part of McNamara’s preparations for the World Cup, however.
It all began back in the spring with the first of a series of get-togethers by the elite training squad at Loughborough University and culminated in a high-altitude training camp in South Africa, which got the thumbs up from Morley, the most capped player in British rugby league history.
“I’ve had a few international coaches but what Steve has done is introduce that team England feel,” Morley added.
“The South Africa trip was fantastic in ironing out all the problems if there are any for next year.
“And the elite training squad idea has been fantastic. You get the chance to have a few days every few months in each other’s company down at Loughborough and I think that’s been great.
“This is the most united team I’ve been involved with.”