Rugby League World Cup: Sam Burgess believes England can beat New Zealand
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 22/11/13 12:43pm
Sam Burgess insists New Zealand can be beaten ahead of Saturday's mouth-watering World Cup semi-final and that it is vital England keep hold of the ball at Wembley.
The Kiwis have been imposing in the tournament so far, brushing aside the likes of Samoa, France, Papua New Guinea and Scotland en route to the last four.
New Zealand, who upset Australia 34-20 to win the 2008 final in Brisbane, are the favourites to beat England in the capital and face either Australia or Fiji in the final.
Steve McNamara's men have yet to peak in reaching the semi-finals and Burgess, who plies his trade in the NRL with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the team will need to be at their absolute best to emerge on top.
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"You've always got to have belief," Burgess told Sky Sports on England's chances of beating New Zealand. "We're not cocky or anything.
"We respect the Kiwis 100 per cent. We've got to work very hard. They are the reigning world champions. They've got some unbelievable players in the team.
"So we're going to have to be at our best to win I think. Anything short of that and we probably won't get the game. We're aware of what's at stake. We've got to do everything we can to prepare our best for the weekend."
Possession will be crucial at Wembley and Burgess insists it will be vital to keep hold of the ball in the capital if they are to stand any chance of upsetting the odds.
"The game plan is keep hold of the ball. Theirs will be the same," he continued. "The more we turn it over the more chance we're going to give them.
"We're a quality team as they are. If we get things right we'll give ourselves a great chance.
"They've got Issac Luke at nine who's been the in-form player in the whole competition, so we're going to have to control him as he really gets them going. We'll have a job doing that.
"We're going to look at the Kiwis in some aspects. A big focus has got to be on ourselves. The more you look sideways at other people and what not you can fall off track.
"We've got to look at them and see where they are playing, what patterns they are playing in and how their defensive structure looks. But really we've got to get prepared to play."
Burgess' only trip to the famous venue was as a Leeds Rhinos fan for the 1999 Challenge Cup final against the London Broncos making Saturday's clash will be his first as a player, an occasion not lost on the 24-year-old.
"There are a lot of different emotions flying about to get to a World Cup final in England. So there's a lot at stake. The less we focus on that and more we focus on our own performance, we'll give ourselves the best shot."