Just minutes after England’s 14-4 victory over Tonga courtesy of a Matty Ashton double on debut, head coach Shaun Wane used his interview to hammer Tonga and the comments that had been made in the week after the first test at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Immediately after England’s victory at St Helens’ last week, former Saints boss and current Tongan head coach Kristian Woolf had complained of the pitch conditions and the refereeing too. Woolf’s gripes in particular focused on the speed of the ruck, feeling his side had been disadvantaged compared to the home side.
Midweek media press conferences saw Wane hit back at Tongan captain Addin Fonua-Blake and his comments that ‘Tonga lost the game’, as opposed to England winning it. That’s continued with Wane revealing how much of a motivator the comments from Tonga had been.
Speaking to the BBC, Wane said: “The things what have been said to us this week from the opposition, some of it was disgraceful about how they didn’t win last week.
“They wanted a firmer ground, they got a firmer ground and they didn’t win. That was a big driving factor for us some of the things that have been said.
“We showed character. We are English and we are proud. It’s in our veins, we don’t do the cultural stuff they do but we have our own way of having spirit.
“The lads were angry about what they said, saying we didn’t really win and we didn’t deserve it and all those comments we have spoken about all week and were a massive motivator for us.”
England will have the opportunity to make the series a clean sweep when they perform at Headingley in a week’s time and that’s something that Wane highlighted as the major motivator for his side to kick on again next week,
“It’s a motivation for us to nill them next week. They wanted a firmer ground and they got one and they still didn’t win, so all those comments, they were full on, so winning 3-0 is the most important thing,” he explained.
“The first half we were really good, and in the second things were a bit scruffy but we got the win and that is all I’m bothered about. The players shows great character and we are really happy.”
England’s win had come courtesy of a first half double from Matty Ashton before Harry Smith’s early second half penalty pushed the game to a three score lead. Tonga did pull one back but England showed up defensively to keep them out and earn the victory at 14-4.