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Shaun Wane responds to Phil Gould saying England “can’t beat” Samoa but notes disadvantage facing his side

In the eyes of many, England have been written off before the Rugby League World Cup begins.

They are fifth favourites with the bookmakers and NRL pundit Phil Gould said England “can’t” beat Samoa in the opening game.

This has sparked widespread discussion with Sam Tomkins also having his say on the comments and now so has his coach Shaun Wane.

“He’s entitled to think whatever he thinks,” Wane said at the World Cup launch yesterday, “We’re in control of what we do and we performed okay against Fiji.

“This is a different test against a really good Samoan team with six players in the NRL Grand Final so we need to be good to win but they will need to be good as well.

“It’s going to be full on come Saturday. I’m very confident in my players.”

Very confident, but under no illusions of the task ahead of him.

Wane noted that Samoa may have a size advantage but hinted that he thinks his side could come up with some moments of skill to determine the game at St James’ Park: “Samoa are a good team, they’ve got big athletes and we’re a different breed. We’re not as big, we’re very athletic and we’ve got things in our game that can trouble Samoa and that’s what we’ve got to do on Saturday.

“There’s no question, they’re 10, 15 kilos bigger than us but we need to be technically good. There’s certain things we’ve been working on that we need to excel at and if we do that we’ll more than trouble them on Saturday.”

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