Chris Hill is predicting a big international future for Warrington team-mate Ben Currie following his hurried England debut.
The 23-year-old Currie, who was something of a surprise addition to Wayne Bennett’s 24-man World Cup squad after missing most of the Super League season through injury, was a late call-up for the opening game when Alex Walmsley pulled out through illness and he seized his opportunity.
England went down 18-4 to holders Australia in Friday’s game in Melbourne but Currie was among a host of impressive performers and particularly caught the eye of international regular Hill, his club captain at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Hill said. “He played only six or seven games this year after coming back from his knee injury and to play 60 minutes in a World Cup opener, it’s being thrown in at the deep end, isn’t it?
“It just shows how much he’s matured these last three years and now he can kick on I’m sure.”
England have moved on to Sydney to set up camp ahead of their next Group A fixture, an intriguing clash with a Robbie Farah-captained Lebanon at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
Hill, who won his 20th cap at AAMI Park, says confidence in the camp remains high despite Friday’s defeat, which has made them all the more determined to earn a rematch with the Kangaroos in the December 2 final.
“We can take a lot of positives out of Friday’s game,” he said.
“I thought we really stuck in and showed some character, we showed that we can defend against the best. We know we can go toe to toe with them.
“The effort was outstanding. I think it was another step forward for us, from the Samoa game, to show how much we’ve improved in the last 12 months.”
England trailed Australia by just six points for 40 minutes and winger Ryan Hall believes the hosts’ late scoring spree flattered them.
“If you look at the full-time score I don’t think it reflected how the game went,” he said. “The late breakaway try blew it out a bit.
“We are all excited about potentially playing Australia again in the final. A lot can happen in six weeks, playing week-in week-out, and there were some encouraging signs.”
England will be without vice-captain Sam Burgess, who damaged a knee medial ligament in the first half of Friday’s game, but Hall believes there is enough talent in the squad to offset the loss.
“He’s an icon, certainly one of our best players, so we’ll miss him,” said Hall. “But that’s what the squad is for. They are all international class players and they’ll get to show that against Lebanon and France.”
England got a chance to watch their remaining group opponents when Lebanon defeated the French 29-18 in Canberra on Sunday to register a first World Cup victory.
“I don’t know much about them but I know they are captained by Robbie Farrah and we’ve got the right people to deliver information to us,” Hall added.