Peacock eyes cold snap

Kangaroos coach strikes cautious note

Last Updated: 19/10/09 6:06pm

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Peacock: relying on the weather

Peacock: relying on the weather

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Skipper Jamie Peacock is hoping some wintry weather will boost England's Gillette Four Nations challenge.

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"I'm sure Smithy will come up with some ideas but at the moment I'm relying on the weather. I'm hoping for the Atlantic to start up again."
Jamie Peacock Quotes of the week

England coach Tony Smith has admitted his side cannot match the pace and skill of Australia's star-studded backline and Peacock says a hard and fast playing surface would play into the hands of the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne.

Speaking at the launch of the Four Nations series, Peacock admitted: "It's a pretty special backline and hopefully the weather will slow them down a bit.

"I'm sure Smithy will come up with some ideas but at the moment I'm relying on the weather. I'm hoping for the Atlantic to start up again."

England will kick off the tournament against France at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium on Friday night, with Australia taking on New Zealand in a re-run of the 2008 World Cup final at the Twickenham Stoop 24 hours later.

The Kangaroos are odds-on favourites to win the final at Elland Road on November 14 but coach Tim Sheens said: "We knew the bookmakers would make us favourites and it's being able to play up to those expectations. The Australian cricket team were supposed to win over here."

Sheens believes that playing at home will give England a significant advantage, insisting that the success enjoyed by English clubs in the annual World Club Challenge held on British soil is more relevant than Australia's 52-4 rout of Smith's men in Melbourne last November.

"We've only got three players who have actually toured and played more than one game in a row," he said.

No pushovers

"A lot of them have been here on a one-off occasion with the World Club Challenge and they've been reminded that, when you play in these conditions, the English are no pushovers.

"What happened in the World Cup with England and Australia and what's going to happen over here are two different things. The cricket reminded us of that."

England are hoping Bradford forward Sam Burgess will shake off the knock he took to his knee against Wales last week and the only player likely to be unavailable for Friday's match is Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, who recently underwent minor knee surgery.

"We have to check him out in the next day or so," said Smith. "It might be a bit soon for him but we knew it would be touch and go for this first game."

France have been dealt a blow with the loss of scrum half Maxime Greseque and newly-qualified hooker or half-back Casey McGuire, prompting coach Bobbie Goulding to turn to 33-year-old Australia-born half-back James Wynne who had been cast aside following the Blues' disappointing World Cup.

Decision

"Casey told me 10 days ago of his decision to pull out but it was a blow to lose Maxime because, being a half-back, he had a lot of knowledge from what we'd done over four or five days," said Goulding, who took his squad to the Pyrenees for a training camp.

"He pulled his hamstring in the last heavy session that we had but I'm delighted that we've got James Wynne available. He has bags of experience and is good about the camp."

World champions New Zealand have also been hit by a spate of withdrawals but coach Stephen Kearney is excited about the youthful nature of his squad.

"We've had a number of injuries this year and we're giving some younger guys an opportunity," he said. "I think they have a lot of potential and hopefully the tour will bring their talents on."

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