Many believe England could be stunned at St James’ Park tomorrow in the Rugby League World Cup opener against Samoa.
The Samoans have six NRL Grand Finalists in their 19 man squad and are one of the sides expected to go far into the tournament and maybe even win it.
What helps their cause against England on Saturday even more “English influence” as coach Matt Parish put it.
He praised the role Castleford Tigers boss Lee Radford and ex-Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar have had on his squad but said the focus was on the players:
“Lee Radford being a staff member has been great. Richard Agar is still in contact with us which is ideal.
“We have a little bit of English influence helping us but at the end of the day the player if we play well we can compete.”
Parish underlined his confidence but said it was about building momentum and confidence as the tournament goes on: “I’m confident we’re going to get better as the competition goes on. It’s by far the strongest World Cup ever, it’s exciting to be part of. We’ve got some confidence but we have some work to do too.”
This will be important for Samoa as he admitted his side will be “underdone” for the first game when the favourites tag was brought up this week:
“That doesn’t bother us whether we’re favourites. We’re underdone for the first game, England played a trial game whilst we were all on a plane.
“We had our first sessions this week and then we’ve got to play in an opening World Cup game. We’ve got to give our best performance.”