MELBOURNE// England coach Tony Smith has told his players not to curb their natural attacking instincts in today's World Cup showdown with Australia at Telstra Dome. The Kangaroos have acknowledged the strength of England's pack, and coach Ricky Stuart has told his team to expect a physical confrontation in the "super pool" clash. Smith also expects a fiery encounter but he does not want his players to abandon their free-flowing Super League-style football, even if that means taking risks.
"I think the British game involves taking some risks and I am not going to ask them to play any different to their normal game," he said. "I'd be taking a bigger risk by asking them to change their style." Smith added: "We need to be physical but we're not looking to do anything illegal. I could not imagine a Test match between England and Australia being anything but feisty to start with. "I would expect both teams to be pretty fired up and sort each other out in the first little while. It's part and parcel of any Test match I would have thought.
"As for being confrontational, we're just building it up like any other Test match but I don't think the players need much motivation for this sort of thing. They know how important it is. They have that rivalry in-built so I'm not doing anything abnormal." While Australia are coming off an impressive 30-6 opening win over New Zealand, England are looking for an improvement on their 32-22 victory over Papua New Guinea.
Although defeat today would not be disastrous, with three teams in Pool A going through to the knockout stages, Smith knows a win would throw the tournament wide open. "Our aim is to improve in every game," he said. "If we can be better than our last performance, we'll be happy.We'll need to be a lot better than our last game." In yesterday's games New Zealand put their defeat by Australia behind them and ran in nine tries to clinch a 48-6 win over Papua New Guinea while Fiji demolished France 42-6 in one of the biggest shocks of the tournament so far.
* PA Sport