Meninga: England win good for World Cup

Mal Meninga says a win for England against his Kangaroos side in today’s World Cup opener would be good for the tournament.

Australia have dominated the competition, winning 10 of the previous 14 World Cups and they eased to the title in the 2013, winning every game.

Speaking ahead of the match at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, the Roos head coach was seemingly playing mind games with counterpart Wayne Bennett.

“It would be enormous for him (Bennett),” said Meninga. “It would be a great start for the tournament in general.

“England will probably think we are at our most vulnerable tomorrow night and we’re prepared for that.

“We’re favourites for the tournament and with that comes some added pressure. If we do get beaten, other teams will probably feel we’re vulnerable as well.

“We haven’t played together for a while and, always with the first game of the series, you’re not quite sure of the combinations.”

On paper, the two teams look evenly matched down the middle, with England boasting household NRL names and Meninga says the game will be won and lost in this area.

“Like most games, it will be won in the middle and they’re a big side with a lot of experience in the middle,” he said.

“I imagine they will try and force the issue, try and get on top of us. All those players in the NRL won’t be over-awed by who they are playing against. We want to dictate in the middle so that’s where the battle lies initially and we’ll see who gets on top after that.

“The players have worked really hard on making sure their attitude is right tomorrow night. We know how important the first game of the tournament is. We want to get off to a good start.”