4 Nov 2022
Tomkins: We are not underestimating Papua New Guinea
England face the Kumuls in Wigan for a spot in the World Cup semi-finals
Skipper Sam Tomkins insisted England will not take the threat of Papua New Guinea lightly ahead of Saturday's quarter-final showdown in Wigan.
Tomkins returns refreshed and reinvigorated at full-back having sat out the demolition of Greece in Round 3 but despite entering as strong favourites to make it to the Emirates semi-final, the Catalans Dragons star is adamanant complacency will creep in.
The Kumuls secured their spot in the knockouts with a 36-0 victory over Wales on Monday and have plenty of powerful threats across the park, including Leigh hooker Edwin Ipape who has been in scintillating form during this tournament.
READ MORE: What are the teams for England v PNG?
Tomkins said: "The boys had a great hit-out [against Greece] and personally I’m fresh. We’re not underestimating Papua New Guinea so we’re going to play our strongest side I believe and there’s players that aren’t in the 17 who are well capable of getting in many national sides.
“Injuries in our game are inevitable and I’m sure we’ll pick some up over the next few weeks but we’ve got a very strong 24 so whichever 17 put goes out will be well capable.”
Shaun Wane has opted for wing sensation Dom Young over England's record try-scorer Ryan Hall while there is no place for Canterbury Bulldogs prop Luke Thompson in the matchday squad.
Jack Welsby is expected to return to the halves to partner George Williams but his versatility could see him also slot in elsewhere having already featured at centre and full-back, especially with Salford stand-off Marc Sneyd included after his player of the match showing against the Titans in Sheffield.
England have certainly got people talking with a string of impressive performances but the experienced Tomkins knows that those three wins will mean nothing if they do not deliver as the tournament enters its sudden death phase.
He added: "We’ve started really well with three convincing wins but tomorrow is certainly our toughest test.
“It’s gone as well as we could have hoped but we’ve got a lot of improving in us. In each one of those three games there have been areas where we can improve.”
Six of Wane's 24-man squad for this World Cup were part of the Great Britain side that lost to the Kumuls in Port Moresby in 2019, so England know what to expect from the only country in the world to have rugby league as its national sport.
Tomkins explained: "They’re a physical side. If we let their middles be dominant, they’ve got some big outside backs and their half-backs are pivotal.
“They like to run the ball and they kick very well so we need to do a job on their middles and give their half-backs as little time as possible.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets