12 Nov 2022
Williams rues a missed chance that may not come again
"It's a tough one to take for these lads, there's definitely been tears," he said
By James Toney at the Emirates Stadium
George Williams is already plotting Rugby League World Cup revenge but admits that for some team-mates their chance has gone.
Williams was one of England's shining lights as they slipped to a 27-26 semi-final defeat, when Samoa's Stephen Crichton landed a golden point drop goal in extra-time to set-up a clash with Australia at Old Trafford next weekend.
The Warrington stand-off has made himself one of the first names on coach Shaun Wane's team-sheet in recent weeks and, aged just 28, could have a chance to right this wrong when France host the next edition in just three years.
But for some team-mates this was a final throw of the dice, five years after England's 6-0 final defeat to Australia in Brisbane.
"This will sit with us for another three years but the heartbreaking thing is some people will never get the chance to play in a World Cup again," said the Warrington stand-off.
"It's a tough one to take for these lads, there's definitely been tears. It's been the best six weeks of our lives and we were playing as one together, that's why it hurts even more.
"It's a great group of lads in a great environment but we couldn't get the job done and that's all that matters.
"I won't take anything away from them, they got what they deserved. We knew what we could do but we didn't do it when it really mattered.
"Watching that kick go over was a nightmare, it felt like it was going over for ever, it went that slow. We are well better than we showed and we are disappointed with how we played.
"When we did get momentum, we’d then make an error out of ill-discipline. They’ve got too many players for us to be off and we were.
"I'll watch the final but I don't know who will win. We were heavy favourites coming into this match and I'd imagine Australia will be too but we've just seen anything can happen in international rugby league."
Captain Sam Tomkins, aged 33, is one of those whose chance of winning England's first World Cup is surely over.
As coach Shaun Wane appeared to fight back the tears in his post-match press conference, Tomkins sat ashen-faced, absently looking into space, wishing for an alternative reality to a game England will feel they should have won.
"We didn't sell ourselves, we thought we were building something very special," he said.
"We were the second best team, there was plenty of effort but effort alone isn't good enough.
"The amount of pressure we put ourselves under was the difference and in attack there were too many sloppy errors. We also didn't defend how we had defended in previous weeks."
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