Rugby League World Cup: Kallum Watkins says England are ready for physical test
Kallum Watkins says England are ready to match the physicality of any of the other seven teams left in the World Cup.
Last Updated: 13/11/13 8:31am
The ferocious, often brutal, tackling of the Pacific Island nations in particular has been one of the abiding memories of the tournament so far as it enters the knock-out stages.
The robust challenges of the Tongans and Fijiians have drawn gasps from the English crowds but some of the biggest hits were recorded in Perpignan on Monday when Samoa came out firing against France.
Watkins was impressed with the way the French stood up to the often illegal tackles and says England will need to fight fire with fire when they play France in Saturday's quarter-final at Wigan.
"It was quite a tough and physical game," Watkins said. "They will be quite sore from that.
"But that's what you expect of all the teams. You've got to be that way and you have got to take it as well.
"That's what we expect for the weekend and hopefully we can match that."
After beating the French 44-6 and 48-4 in last year's autumn internationals with the nucleus of the side that will be on duty at the DW Stadium, Steve McNamara's men are overwhelming favourites to secure a place in the Wembley semi-final double header.
However, Watkins is warning his team-mates to prepare for a sterner test from the Catalan Dragons-dominated French and reckons England will need to improve on Saturday's 34-12 win over Fiji if they are to keep alive their hopes of lifting the crown.
"We know what they're about," he said. "They're physical and have some experience through Super League and the Catalan Dragons.
"With us, we've got to focus on what we've got to do. Last week the first half wasn't what we wanted to get to but it was calm at half-time and in the second half we turned it around.
"We knew we were doing the right thing at certain times but in attack we weren't quite there. In the second half we certainly showed that.
"We matched them physically as we knew it was going to be a physical game but in attack we tried too hard at times. In the second half we were more direct and comfortable with what we were doing and scored some great tries."