Talking Sport - We must find a killer instinct

PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM - Rugby League - Gillette 4 Nations 2011 - England v Australia - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 5/11/11 - England's Jon Wilkin.
PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM - Rugby League - Gillette 4 Nations 2011 - England v Australia - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 5/11/11 - England's Jon Wilkin.

THE same old story... the same old result. Words which I have echoed more than once following a defeat at the hands of the Australians during recent years.

Nothing seems to have changed – and it’s no use England making the excuse that had Tom Briscoe’s second-half try not been wrongly ruled out by New Zealand referee Henry Perenara it might have changed the course of the Four Nations clash at Wembley.

The Kangaroos may not have been at their best on this occasion, but have a happy knack of being able to raise their game whenever it matters most as they demonstrated late in the game, running out 36-20 winners.

It is the kind of killer instinct England still lack, and until we show the same kind of ruthless finishing when in the ascendancy, then we will find it difficult to re-establish ourselves as the top nation in world rugby ahead of Australia and New Zealand.

I would love the players to prove me wrong and go on and lift the Four Nations title, but they are now facing an uphill battle, especially as the formidable Kiwis block their path to a second crack at the Aussies, who have already qualified for the the Leeds final.

Injuries to props James Graham and Jamie Peacock and second-rower Gareth Ellis – all of whom missed a large slice of the second half against the Aussies – may cause coach Steve McNamara one or two selection headaches this week.

But there are other quality players waiting in the wings and ready to bust a gut to prove themselves in an England shirt.

They may get an opportunity in Saturday night’s win-or-bust clash against the Kiwis at the KC Stadium, which I expected will be bursting at the seams.

It certainly won’t be a place for fans of a nervous disposition.

n TRAVEL to all home games from your favourite watering-hole. That’s the unique offer from the Original Saints Supporters’ Club, who plan to run a coach from their meeting base, the Black Bull Hotel in Knowsley Road to fixtures at the new stadium in 2012.

It will pick up supporters prior to the game, drop them off outside the ground, and then collect them at a chosen point after the final hooter for the return trip.

Initially one coach will operate, but if the scheme proves to be a winner, it could provide two coaches matchdays.

“It is an experiment we feel is worthwhile pursuing,” vice chairman John Powell told me.

“We don’t know whether it will be a success or not, but if we get the right kind of backing from our existing members and other fans, it could snowball.”

The fare will be £3.

n NOT surprisingly, Alex Murphy – a Knowsley Road legend and a Challenge Cup winner with Saints, Warrington and Leigh – is one of 10 past greats to be nominated by the RFL as a contenders for the proposed statue outside Wembley to mark the 13--a-side code’s long association with the national stadium.

St Helens-born Alex will be among the favourites but he will face stiff competitions from the others – Billy Boston, Jonathan Davies, Don and Neil Fox, Ellery Hanley, Martin Offiah, Clive Sullivan, Shaun Edwards and Lance Todd.

But the RFL, who included the list in their programme for the England-Australia showdown, stress that fans whose votes will decide the eventual winner don’t necessarily have to stick to to the 10 players recommended.

It will be an interested contest – and I haven’t a clue who is going to win it.