Rugby League World Cup: Ben Westwood is relishing facing Sonny Bill Williams
England second rower Ben Westwood is looking forward to testing himself against Sonny Bill Williams on Saturday.
Last Updated: 20/11/13 11:26am
The Warrington favourite knows England must combat the threat of Williams if they are to get past holders New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final clash at Wembley.
He has never before faced Williams - seen by many as the world's best forward - and he is relishing pitting himself against the Kiwi.
"There's no two ways about it, he's a world-class athlete," Westwood said of the All Blacks World Cup winner.
"The things he does a lot of people can't do.
"It's exciting. I've never played against him before. It's good to test yourself against the best in the world and that's probably what he is.
"It's one I'll look forward to. I'll try to do my best against the best. It will be a good contest I'm sure."
In addition to keeping Williams quiet, England must improve their own creativity after playing in fits and starts throughout the tournament so far.
They have relied on purple patches to get them past inferior opposition, most recently against France in last Saturday's quarter-final, but Westwood knows his side will need to produce sustained spells of pressure and convert their chances if they are to reach their first World Cup final for 18 years.
"Consistency comes into it," admitted Westwood. "I know that with the ability of this team, we are capable of going all the way.
"But we have to get it right this week, there is no going back. It's knockout and we're up against maybe the form side of the competition.
"Last week was a bit of a dip. The performance wasn't the best and I think we knew that while we were playing. The harder to you try the more things go wrong.
"We certainly need to pick up our game this week and I'm sure we'll be ready for it on Saturday. We're definitely getting things right to put in a real good performance against a strong Kiwi side.
"We'll be ready for them and give it our best shot."
Westwood, 32, is one of four survivors from the England team beaten 32-22 by New Zealand in the last World Cup semi-finals in Brisbane in 2008 and accepts that it would be another failure if they once more fall at the penultimate hurdle.
"I think so," he said. "We've been working for the last three or four years towards this World Cup.
"New Zealand are a top-quality side with some dangerous players but in one-off games anything can happen.
"It's about who turns up on the day. In the last World Cup New Zealand turned up both days and ended up winning."
Westwood is hoping the Wembley venue, and a partisan crowd of up to 70,000, can tilt the balance England's way in the first part of Saturday's semi-final double header.
No fewer than 17 members of England's 23-man squad have experienced playing at Wembley and the eight players from Wigan and Warrington have all enjoyed recent success there.
"I've been there a few times now with Warrington and come off a winner," Westwood said.
"I lost the last time I played with England there but it's a great atmosphere.
"Tickets are selling out and I'm looking forward to walking out in front of a 65,000 or 70,000 crowd. It's the best stadium in the world for me.
"We've got finals experience there and hopefully we can use that. I don't think it matters where we play but a crowd of 70,000 behind us can lift you."