Ellis eyes PNG positives
Gareth Ellis believes there were positives to take from England's patchy win over Papua New Guinea.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 27/10/08 11:39am
Gareth Ellis believes there were positives to take from England's scrappy win over Papua New Guinea last Saturday.
England failed to impress against PNG despite winning 32-22, while defending champions Australia looked supreme after trouncing New Zealand 30-6 on Sunday.
The opening Group A ties have prompted the media to dub the 10-team tournament a one-horse race in favour of hosts Australia.
Ellis admits his side need to improve their defence but insists optimism remains high in the England camp as they prepare for Sunday's showdown with the Kangaroos in Melbourne.
"The expectations we have got as a team are pretty high and to concede 22 points is not good enough really," he said.
"In hindsight, we might look on the game as a positive because it gave us a good work-out. Looking back, it was good to get the two points.
"We were obviously disappointed with our performance. We were probably a bit surprised at how Papua New Guinea played. We didn't have much information on them, other than the ones who play in Super League."
Ellis, who will remain Down Under after the tournament to play for Wests Tigers in 2009, admits the Kangaroos would have been far from impressed by England's low-key start to the competition but has warned the critics not to write his side off.
"They can make of it what they want," he said. "It's what is in our changing room that matters, it's how we respond to it."
Prop forward James Graham, one of England's better players in Townsville, believes last Saturday's hard-fought victory has provided the team with a wake-up-call.
"People will probably write us off a bit but we're not worried about that," he said.
"There was a lot of momentum behind us so that brought us back down to earth and gave us the kick up the backside we most probably needed."
England received some encouragement from an unexpected source when Australia coach Ricky Stuart, whose side provide the next opposition, had words of praise for them.
"It was a good hit-out for them and they'll be better for it," he said after the Kangaroos posted their five-try win over New Zealand.