England insist they will not underestimate the World Cup challenge of Lebanon
Last Updated: 03/11/17 8:55am
England insist they will not underestimate the challenge of Lebanon in their latest World Cup group game on Saturday.
The Cedars have a sprinkling of NRL talent, led by skipper Robbie Farah and prop Tim Mannah, alongside a host of part-time players and go into their first-ever meeting with England on the back of a maiden World Cup win.
Stand-off Mitchell Moses showed his class with a late individual try to clinch a 29-18 victory over France in Canberra last Sunday, which has put England on alert ahead of their meeting in Sydney, a city with a large Lebanese community.
"They're an international side with some quality players in there," said assistant coach Denis Betts after England's final team run at Allianz Stadium on Friday morning.
"They've got a massive following in this part of the world. You saw last week, even though they are ranked bottom of the group, they came out and set about France with an intensity and a passion that we're going to have to match tomorrow.
"If anything, this is a bigger game for them. They know they can win so we've got to match their enthusiasm and their intensity and our willingness to do the little things."
Former Bradford prop Tom Burgess, who played alongside Farah with South Sydney this year, was not surprised by the ease with which the Cedars polished off the French.
"They have got some great players across the board and they have got a lot of experience," Burgess said. "I was surprised Lebanon did not go away with it more.
"I feel their pivots are more experienced. They have got some smart players. I know Robbie well from having a year with him and he is one of the smartest if not the best.
"Mitch Moses is one of the form half-backs too so we are not taking them lightly by any stretch."
England head coach Wayne Bennett has made just one change to the side that lost 18-4 to Australia in their opening game in Melbourne, St Helens prop Alex Walmsley coming in for the injured Sam Burgess, and Betts reported no late drama.
"Big Al has got over his virus," Betts said. "He was almost there last week, Wayne just decided on the morning of the game he wasn't quite there and we needed him for the rest of the tournament."
Meanwhile, Betts said Burgess is making good progress in his recovery from the knee ligament injury he sustained in the game at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
"Sam is looking really good," Betts said. "He's a good healer.
"We'll take it week to week, we're not setting a definite target, it's hard to do that with Sam because he wants to play. He likes to prove people wrong when they give him a number.
"If he feels he's ready to play, then it will be down to the coach and physios to have a chat. He's working hard and pushing himself to get back as soon as possible."