Wilkin: England haven’t gone backwards

Jon Wilkin says there are positive to be drawn from England's defeat to Australia
Jon Wilkin says there are positive to be drawn from England's defeat to Australia

Saints’ skipper Jon Wilkin hit the nail on the head when analysing England’s 36-18 exit from the Four Nations championship at the London Stadium on Sunday.

“We haven’t gone backwards since defeating New Zealand 2-1 in last year’s Test series but the Australians were simply phenomenal on the day,” said 32-year-old Wilkin, who represented England and Great Britain on 16 occasions.

He also saw positives in England’s performance which they can build on ahead of next year’s World Cup, under the guidance of ever-demanding new coach Wayne Bennett.

“We have blooded a lot of young players, including my St Helens team-mates Mark Percival and Jonny Lomax, who have been given much needed international experience and can only learn from it and also improve.”

Aussie head coach Mal Meninga also had time to praise England’s contribution to a game which was in the balance until the ruthless Kangaroos struck three times in the space of 18 second-half minutes.

The former Saints’ legend, who helped the Knowsley Road outfit lift the Lancashire Cup and the Premiership title in the 1984-85 season, said: “England kept hanging in and I think they are going places.

“I was extremely impressed by the performance of both teams. It was a torrid game and very physical.”