x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Peacock ready to strut

The England players have upped intensity in training and are raring to go against Papua New Guinea.

Jamie Peacock, the England captain, is confident of leading the way at the World Cup.
Jamie Peacock, the England captain, is confident of leading the way at the World Cup.

England are raring to go as they begin their final preparations for Saturday's World Cup clash against Papua New Guinea. Tony Smith's men spent the past week at a training camp on the Gold Coast before moving to Queensland's tropical north to acclimatise fully ahead of the competition's opener.

And there is a quiet confidence in the squad that the captain Jamie Peacock can lead the way to international glory. Assistant coach Steve McNamara revealed the squad had gradually increased the intensity of their training programme and were now ready for action. He said: "The Gold Coast has been pretty much perfect for us - the weather and the conditions have been fantastic, as has the surface we've managed to train on.

"It was a long journey and we've recovered really well. I think the players are just ready to play now. If there was a game tomorrow they'd be very happy with it. "In the first few days we got here we made sure we didn't pick up any unnecessary injuries. "Now the players are looking very athletic and quick at this moment in time." For Peacock there is a real sense or role reversal in leading the England side. For Kevin Sinfield, who captained Leeds Rhinos to back-to-back Super League title triumphs is in the running to wear the No 13 shirt.

But he is happy to play second fiddle to Peacock in their bid to land the World Cup. "JP really helped me at Leeds and I'd like to repay the favour," said Sinfield. "If I can help him half as much as he's helped me, then I'll be doing my best to do that. I'm certainly right behind him. Whatever role he wants me to play, I'll do it for him. "There are a lot of club captains here and I'm sure we have all got one common goal and that is to get behind JP and make sure he's not on his own.

"His form has been outstanding over the past couple of years. He leads from the front and lets his play on the field do the talking for him. But, when he does speak, everyone stands up and listens. He's very commanding and he'll do a great job again this time I'm sure." Meanwhile, New Zealand centre Iosia Soliola has been ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury. The news is another blow for the Kiwis after losing the services of full-back Brent Webb and prop Jeff Lima.

* PA Sport