Halfback Matty Smith says England’s heartbreaking 2013 World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand will spur them on in the looming Four Nations.
The pain of England’s heartbreaking 2013 World Cup semi-final loss still stings halfback Matty Smith – and he wasn’t even playing that day.
So believe the Wigan No.7 when he says England will be out for retribution at the looming Four Nations tournament.
Smith may still be getting his head around Wigan’s recent 14-6 English Super League grand final loss to St Helens, a match that will go down in infamy after Warriors prop Ben Flower’s disgraceful assault of Lance Hohaia.
However, the result Smith was ruing when he arrived at England’s Four Nations camp on the Gold Coast occurred 11 months ago.
Smith still seemed to be shaking his head over England’s 20-18 World Cup semi-final loss last year to New Zealand sealed by Shaun Johnson’s last gasp heroics.
“They were so close to getting into a final,” he said.
“Watching that game as an England fan I felt a bit sorry for the boys because I felt they probably deserved to win that game and play in the final.”
And Smith believes that painful memory will spur England on to claim Four Nations glory.
“We have had a year to reflect on that and the young faces who have come in are hungry to be successful,” he said.
“It’s a different team but the goal is the same – to win the tournament.”
Technically Smith is one of those “young faces”.
But at 27, Smith is poised to become one of England’s oldest debutants when he partners Dragons playmaker Gareth Widdop in the halves for Saturday night’s Four Nations opener against Samoa in Brisbane.
In all, England’s 24-strong squad features nine uncapped players and just 13 survivors from their devastating 2013 World Cup campaign.
Despite Sam Burgess’ defection to rugby, England still boast six NRL-based players in the national squad, with Josh Hodgson set to join them when he links up with Canberra ahead of the 2015 season.
Smith said the early signs were good with new halves partner Widdop after just a handful of sessions at their Gold Coast camp.
“It’s the first time I have trained with Gaz Widdop but we looked comfortable at times,” he said.
“Now we have a week to get ready for Samoa so I think we will go into that confident.”
Widdop said their NRL talent would provide a shot in the arm for their Four Nations campaign but believed their England based contingent had provided the biggest boost.
“The boys who have flown over have definitely brought that confidence with them,” he said.
“There are a lot of new faces but they have a lot of belief in their ability.”