Shaun Wane discusses his team for Greece game and enlisting support of ex-England footballer

England coach Shaun Wane brought in former international footballer Stuart Pearce to help him hone his preparations for the business end of the World Cup.

Pearce, known as “Psycho” for his physical approach during his playing career, addressed Wane’s 24-man squad at Wigan’s Robin Park arena ahead of Saturday’s final Group A clash with Greece at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane.

Wane also tapped into the knowledge of England manager Gareth Southgate on Wednesday morning as he looks to find the extra edge in his bid to end the country’s 50-year wait for World Cup success.

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“Stuart is an impressive Englishman who is very passionate,” Wane said at his weekly press conference. “We’ve learned a lot off him.

“He presented to the group this morning and was really good. He spoke very highly about the camp and how we went about our session.

“We’re going to have other people coming in. It’s important players experience that, there are other ways of learning that will make us better at rugby league, listening to legends like him was very important.

“I spoke to Gareth (Southgate) this morning over text and invited him to the games and we’ve got other people who are going to come in and present jerseys.”

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St Helens second rower Joe Batchelor, who will make his England debut on Saturday, said: “It was great to get someone of his experience.

England coach Shaun Wane inside the stadium before the Rugby League World Cup game against France. (Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)England coach Shaun Wane inside the stadium before the Rugby League World Cup game against France. (Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
England coach Shaun Wane inside the stadium before the Rugby League World Cup game against France. (Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

“He’s got the knowledge of representing his country at the highest level, it was a really valuable morning for us.

“He’s a leader, that’s what he was known for, and he gave us some lessons in that and on being part of a team in a major tournament.”

Canberra Raiders forward Elliott Whitehead, who has scored tries in England’s opening victories over Samoa and France, makes way for Batchelor while Wigan Warriors centre Kai Pearce-Paul gets a chance in the absence of Kallum Watkins, who is ruled out through the concussion protocols.

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Full-back Sam Tomkins is also rested so stand-off George Williams takes over the captaincy after leading England in the absence of his former Wigan team-mate in the warm-up game against Fiji.

Wane always intended to give every player in his squad a run-out before the quarter-finals and he says Saturday’s game will enable him to finalise his best team.

“The team is going to be slightly different but the intent will be the same,” he said. “We’ve got 24 people in the squad and I need to see everybody.

“I’ve got two very talented players making their Test debuts for our great country and I’m excited to see them play. The team I’ve selected for Saturday is very strong.

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“I want everybody fit, ready and hungry. It’s vital that everybody plays and I want to be fair. It’s the right thing to do. I want them all to play.

“This game will go a long way to shaping my team. I want to make a choice from 24 players. I want the decision to get to 17 to be a very hard one to make.”

Greece have conceded 106 points in their matches against France and Samoa but Wane says he will not be taking them lightly.

“We’ve done exactly the same previews on them that we did for Samoa and France,” he said. “We’re going to show them the respect they deserve.”

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Wane says the 21-year-old Pearce-Paul will play spells at both centre and second row against the Greeks.

The former London Broncos player said: “I’m really excited. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I first found out I was playing. It put a weird feeling in my belly.

“It’s an aspiration growing up wanting to play for your country one day. It’s hard to explain how I’m feeling but I’m very excited to get on and show Shaun what I can do.”

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