Jermaine McGillvary admits England must learn to play Australia at their own game if they are ever going to win a World Cup – with patience being a key virtue.
The Huddersfield Giants winger is looking forward to the prospect of taking part in his first such tournament when Wayne Bennett’s side face the Kangaroos in Melbourne on Friday week.
They are currently in Perth preparing for a warm-up game against Affiliated States before the real business of tackling the reigning champions begins.
No team from these shores has won a World Cup since Great Britain prospered in 1972 with England falling at the semi-final stage during a cruel late loss against New Zealand at Wembley four years ago.
McGillvary only actually made his Test debut two years ago, so has witnessed many of the national side’s previous performances from afar.
“I’ve been at home and watched, seeing Leroy (Cudjoe) being a part of that but this is my first experience of it all,” he said, referring to the Huddersfield centre who impressed in the 2013 World Cup.
We looked good in the Four Nations but the thing with Australia and my experience of playing against them is they have a game plan and no matter what happens they don’t panic.Jermaine McGillvary
“From the outside I used to watch and think England were good enough. They just didn’t play good enough for long enough.
“I think that was the case when we played Australia (last year). We started like a house on fire.
“We looked good in the Four Nations but the thing with Australia and my experience of playing against them is they have a game plan and no matter what happens they don’t panic.
“They stick to their game plan whether they are winning or losing and they are relentless at doing it. We need to be like that. We can’t have that Super League mentality as in Super League we go try for try for try so defences don’t really matter.
“But on the international stage any mistake gets picked up on straight away. Australia hardly make any errors so when they do you have to capitalise.”
McGillvary pointed to Leeds Rhinos’ Super League Grand Final win as a case in point.
“Castleford have been the best team by a mile all season and those errors they made they just didn’t do all season,” he said.
“They did it when it mattered, though, and lost in the end. They still had an outstanding season but in that one game when it really mattered, they erred.
“It’s a simple thing saying ‘don’t make errors’ and there’s massive pressure when you’re playing the best players in the world. But if you can you stand a far better chance of winning.
“It’s easier said than done; you need sparks and you need world-class players to do that but we have got that in our team.
“It won’t be easy. It is achievable and we have the players to do it. But it won’t just come to us. We have to go out and prove it.”
Despite his late start in international football, McGillvary has certainly proved his worth having helped England to a series win over New Zealand in 2015 and, despite a poor tournament for his country, looking strong in last year’s Four Nations.
He is set to pit himself against either Josh Mansour – the Penrith Panthers star whose Four Nations and most of this season was ruined by a freak training ground knee injury – or Cronulla Sharks’ Valentine Holmes when they face Australia in that mouthwatering opener.
“Valentine Holmes is a quality player,” said McGillvary.
“I played against him in the Four Nations. He’s lightning quick, not the tallest – probably the same height as me – but young, very good, skilful and strong. He’ll be a hard player to come up against. I’ve seen Mansour playing in Australia. He’s a big, strong guy who reminds me a lot of Justin Carney – big legs.
“No matter who they put out there you know they’ll be outstanding players. Australia could put four teams out who could easily compete for the World Cup.
“That’s how much depth they have so it’ll be a good challenge but I love challenges and enjoy facing players I’ve not played before. This is probably going to be my first and last World Cup. I’m not stupid – I’m a realist – so I want to give it my best shot.”
Meanwhile, ambitious plans have been unveiled for a New York rugby league team to follow Toronto into the English game.
A business plan has been submitted to the RFL and organisers, who say they have the backing of wealthy benefactors, hope to get the go-ahead in time for 2019.
Although inspired by the success of Toronto, who achieved promotion from League 1 at the first attempt and drew crowds of 7,000, the founders of the New York club hope to enter at Championship level.
Co-founder Tom Scott said, like Toronto, the New York club would not seek any central funding and have already secured £7.5m in investment.