hooker Daryl Clark last night maintained England will not become obsessed with chasing points against Scotland as they look for the convincing win needed to keep alive their Ladbrokes Four Nations hopes.
The former Castleford Tigers star is set to be a key player in Wayne Bennett’s attacking plans as the two countries face each other for the first time in Coventry tomorrow evening.
After a 17-16 defeat to holders New Zealand, England must win but also beat world champions Australia the following weekend to stand any chance of reaching the Anfield final later this month.
However, even then, points difference could come into play meaning there must be an emphasis on being ruthless against the unfancied Bravehearts.
But Clark told The Yorkshire Post: “We can’t look too much at that. Obviously, it all could come down to points difference, but we can’t worry about those things.
“We have to go out and perform and, if we do that, it should all look after itself. It’ll be great to face Scotland for a first time; as neighbouring nations I think we should do it a lot more.
“But we know they have some talented players and we have to get our game right. There was chances to win it against the Kiwis last week that we missed.
“Hopefully if we get in those scenarios again in this tournament we’ll play it differently and be more controlled. We’ve practised that this week.
“People will be talking about the Australia game coming up – that’s always massive – but we have to get this one knocked off first. We can’t just turn up expecting it to be easy.”
Clark, who joined Warrington Wolves from hometown Castleford in a £185,000 deal after winning the 2014 Man of Steel award, looked sharp off the bench against the Kiwis.
After a fine campaign with his club, who he helped reach both the Challenge Cup and Grand Final, the 23-year-old is back in the international fold after being dropped by then coach Steve McNamara for last season’s Test series win over the Kiwis.
“I played the last 30 minutes of the game and really enjoyed it especially after missing out last year,” added the dynamic Yorkshireman, who debuted during the 2014 Four Nations.
“Obviously, it was disappointing to lose out so narrowly, but we’ve a hard week’s training ready for Scotland and we’re looking forward to getting back out there.
“Hopefully I’ll get a bit longer on Saturday, but I’ll do whatever job I’m needed to do.”
Head coach Bennett has sprung a surprise by dropping stand-off Gareth Widdop.
The Halifax-born St George-Illawarra co-captain has started every match for his country in the last three years, but makes way in the 19-man squad for St Helens centre Mark Percival.
When Bennett said on Tuesday that Wigan Warriors’ half-back George Williams – an unused member of last week’s 19 – would definitely play against Scotland, most people thought Castleford’s Luke Gale would lose his shirt for the weekend.
However, it is the 27-year-old Widdop who is cut, which will come as a surprise to some although few could argue Gale – who debuted against France a fortnight ago – does not deserve another chance to impress.
It seems he and Williams will form an exciting new partnership and, if they fare well, could conceivably face Australia, too.
Widdop set up Ryan Hall’s try with a brilliant pass against the Kiwis, but struggled to create much more and was at fault for Shaun Johnson’s intercept score.
In the only other change, Bennett brought Hull FC prop Scott Taylor into his 19-man squad to replace the injured James Graham and he is set to start while Percival is expected to take Dan Sarginson’s centre spot.
Williams, 22, played the first two Tests of last year’s series with the Kiwis, but this is his first taste of action this autumn for the player who helped Wigan beat Warrington in October’s Grand Final.
Bennett confirmed Graham is rested while he recovers from a minor knee injury, but expects to see him back in contention to play against Australia.
Scotland lost 54-12 against the Kangaroos a week ago, but the coach maintained: “We won’t be reading too much into that game.
“Scotland are a good side with plenty of talent from Super League and the NRL in there.
“From what I saw, I thought they had a go last Friday and scored some decent tries.
“We’re focused on our job and what needs to happen to come out top.”
Meanwhile, former Hull KR captain Terry Campese hopes to guide Italy to the 2017 World Cup in his final appearance on British soil tonight in their qualifier versus Russia at Leigh.
England Squad: Bateman, G Burgess, S Burgess, T Burgess, Clark, Cooper, Farrell, Gale, Hall, Hill, Hodgson, Lomax, McGillvary, Percival, Sarginson, Taylor, Watkins, Whitehead, Williams.