England’s preparations for their final Rugby League World Cup group game with Greece have been aided by a motivational speech from football’s Stuart Pearce. The 60-year-old, who represented England at two major tournaments as a player, was invited into camp on Wednesday to share his experiences of representing his country at the highest level.
Pearce is a keen rugby league supporter and with Shaun Wane, the England coach, having also forged links with Gareth Southgate in recent years, Wane said he is keen for his players to experience insight from as many different sports as possible.
“He’s been talking to us. He’s an impressive Englishman,” Wane said of Pearce. “He’s very passionate and he’s presented to the group really well. I think he got a lot from us as well. He spoke very highly about the experience. It’s really important to get other people in. We’ve had some important chats with Stuart. He’s a very humble man.”
Wane has invited Pearce and Southgate to England games as the tournament progresses. “I spoke to Gareth over text about a few things and I’ve invited him in to any of our games depending on how we progress,” he said.
England have won their opening two games and have already qualified for the quarter-finals before the game on Saturday in Sheffield. St Helens’ Joe Batchelor will make his Test debut in a rotated side..
He said he enjoyed the experience of being in Pearce’s company. “It was great to get someone of his experience in; he’s got knowledge of representing his country at the highest level. He’s a leader, that’s what he’s known for. He gave us some lessons about that experience of being in a team playing in major tournaments.”
The Wigan forward Kai Pearce-Paul will also make his first Test appearance and George Williams will captain the side in Sam Tomkins’s absence.