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England have ‘great opportunity’ in Four Nations

Jonathan Davies

Jonathan Davies made 10 appearances for Great Britain, scoring the match-winning try in the first Test of the 1994 series against Australia

England have a “great opportunity” to prove themselves against the best teams in the world at the Four Nations, says Great Britain legend Jonathan Davies.

The hosts will play world champions Australia, holders New Zealand and underdogs Scotland in the four-team tournament, which begins on Friday.

“With a sprinkling of Australia-based players, they won’t be in awe of these guys from the NRL,” said Davies.

“Our forwards can compete with anyone in the world.”

Sam Burgess, who has returned to captain England after a brief stint in union, leads a pack that includes his brothers and South Sydney team-mates George and Tom, as well as Canterbury’s James Graham.

But Davies believes that coach Wayne Bennett will have to pick his side shrewdly to match the skills and speed of Australia and New Zealand.

“Wayne is a maverick, a quietly-spoken guy, very efficient just knows the game inside out,” he added.

“His selection is key. Gareth Widdop of St George Illawarra will start, I think, and Wigan stand-off George Williams is dangerous. Leeds centre Kallum Watkins is the one I am waiting for to really break onto the scene.”

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International game on show

In the wake of England being awarded the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, Davies believes that the tournament is a great chance for the sport to win new fans.

“There is not the strength in depth – only Australia, New Zealand and England are at the top – so there is always the danger of the domestic game dominating,” he said.

“But this is a chance for the international rugby league to put on a performance, with the three best sides in the world, well-matched, on terrestrial television at an ideal time of year.

“The majority of general sports fans love rugby league. When it is on in the football or rugby union season, they will sit and watch it.

“When the action is in the summer, they are not in the habit and it can pass them by. So to be on in the middle November is a huge opportunity.”

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Wayne Bennett’s England beat France 40-6 in their warm-up for the tournament

Scotland face up to challenge

Scotland earned their place as the fourth team in the event after coming top of the 2014 European Cup standings.

But, as only the ninth-best team in the world rankings, they face a daunting task, despite recruiting Australian-born Lachlan Coote and Euan Aitken to their ranks.

“Huddersfield’s Danny Brough and Ryan Brierley will run the show for them, with the likes of Coote and Wigan’s Lewis Tierney in the backline,” said Davies.

“They will be underdogs in every game, but they will have to face up to the experience.”

Scotland face Australia in the tournament opener at Hull’s Lightstream Stadium on Friday, with England taking on New Zealand at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield the following day.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37788915