HULL FC’S Scott Taylor may have ‘fallen out’ with Chris Hill, but his England front-row colleague remains a big fan of the prop’s international quality.
With James Graham ruled out of Saturday’s crucial Ladbrokes Four Nations game against Scotland due to a knee injury, Taylor hopes to get the nod as his replacement when Wayne Bennett’s squad is announced today.
The 25-year-old impressed on his Test debut against France less than a fortnight ago, but was left out of last weekend’s squad for the 17-16 defeat to New Zealand when Warrington Wolves captain Hill – rested in Avignon following the Grand Final – was restored to the starting line-up.
However, Hill, who was named in the Super League Dream Team along with Taylor, believes he will do a fine job against Scotland and also – if stalwart Graham does not recover – versus Australia in London, too.
England need to win both games to stand any chance of qualifying for the final.
“I don’t think Tag (Taylor) has been impressed with my coffee in the room,” he said, about the former Hull KR and Wigan Warriors forward who helped Hull beat Warrington in the Challenge Cup final in August.
“We roomed together and he ended up splitting from me.
“He’s a good lad and I’ve played against him a few times now.
“He deserved his spot against France and was probably really unlucky to miss out at the weekend.
“Without a doubt he’d be ready for Australia, too. You can see he’s got it in him and he’ll grow with experience. Hopefully, this weekend will be another experience for him.”
Scotland, playing their first Four Nations, were comfortably beaten by Australia in their opening fixture, but Hill will not take them lightly, especially whenever Huddersfield Giants’ stand-off Danny Brough is in their ranks.
“Danny Brough is very dangerous,” he said, about the Scotland captain.
“It’s the same every time you play him – if you let him control the game with a kick, then you could be in for a long day.
“Danny’s a massive part of what Scotland do and I’d imagine we’ve got a few targets on him.
“It’s perhaps the one week where you wouldn’t want to be under a kick.
“Scotland are a wounded animal, too, and they’re the worst to come up against.
“We’ve got to be on our game this week and they’ve nothing to lose.”
One of their opponents’ major threats, of course, is Matty Russell, the dynamic Warrington full-back who has been such a force for the League Leaders’ Shield winners this term.
Hill explained: “Matty and I didn’t really talk about facing each other during the season – it was when we were having a drink after the Grand Final that it was mentioned.
“A few challenges were laid out too and it’ll be interesting when he’s making a kick-return. I can’t really say what those challenges were... I’ll just leave them alone.”
England lacked composure in the final stages against New Zealand when they had 15 minutes to overturn Shaun Johnson’s drop goal, but failed with a number of chances.
“Those are the fine lines in Test match rugby; there were probably one or two plays and that decides the game,” added Hill.
“We gave them too much ball – composure is key.
“Composure comes down to fatigue as well, that’s when you don’t do your best work. Those 10 sets at the end of the first half didn’t help us and probably in the last three or four minutes they put a bit of pressure on us.”
England had defended 10 successive sets on their own line during that period, remarkably conceding just one try against the holders, but it clearly took its toll eventually.
They have worked on improving their execution in training ahead of Saturday’s game.
“We’ve been doing 13 on 13 and they’ve been giving us different scenarios that can come up,” he said.
“Wayne likes putting us under pressure in training so we can do things like getting the ball on the money.
“We can do it in training; it’s more often than not a case of taking it onto the field as well.”
Meanwhile, Wigan half-back George Williams – Warrington’s scourge in their Grand Final defeat – is expected to make his first international appearance of the autumn, possibly at the expense of Castleford Tigers’ Luke Gale, who impressed against the Kiwis.
Hill said: “George Williams is really good and has a lot of experience for a young kid.
“I think he’ll do a great job.
“He’s a real threat when he’s running the ball and, to be fair, has probably been the difference in matches between Wigan and Warrington.
“His running threat hurts teams and he’s deceptively strong.
“He’ll bring something different to us.”