England coach Tony Smith has rated wing Lee Smith a 'doubtful' starter for Sunday's Rugby League World Cup clash with Australia in Melbourne because of a foot injury.
England coach Tony Smith has rated wing Lee Smith a 'doubtful' starter for Sunday's Rugby League World Cup clash with Australia in Melbourne because of a foot injury. Speaking as the England squad went through its paces for the first time since it opened the tournament with a 32-22 win over Papua New Guinea, Smith admitted he is worried about the 22-year-old's fitness. "Yeah from the weekend, Lee Smith is a bit of a concern," Smith said at Xavier College in Melbourne. We'll monitor him through the week." With Smith training away from the main group and his foot encased in a moon boot, his coach added that he will sit out the Telstra Dome clash with the tournament favourites if he isn't fully fit. "If he's fit and healthy then he'll play and if not he won't play," Tony Smith added. "We're not willing to risk anybody this early in the tournament. e's got to be doubtful at this stage." Having been in transit from Townsville when the Kangaroos opened their title defence on Sunday night with a 30-6 thrashing of New Zealand in Sydney, Smith wasn't ready to offer his thoughts about the host nation's performance. "(I) haven't seen 'em," he said. "We were travelling at the time and we've been dealing with our game. "We'll have a look at them today (Monday) and this evening and tomorrow (Tuesday)." Smith was just as concerned about the 'deficiencies' in England's game that need to be ironed out before Sunday's battle with Australia, who he says 'are the favourites and deservedly so'. "We'll have a look at that (Australia's game against New Zealand) over a period of time and certainly we're working on our deficiencies and some areas that we weren't as good as we needed to be and even some areas that we're good at that we were just a bit below par," he added. "It's all about making sure our strengths are up to speed and exploiting weaknesses where they are in the opposition and we'll do that throughout the week." Smith is prepared to put Saturday's match and lack of cohesion for periods down to the fact that it was the first game the players had been part of for some time and their first hit-out together in even longer. "It's good to get that one out of the road, it was a few weeks since some of the players played, some of them hadn't played since our grand final and they've done various things since then so (there were) a few cobwebs there," he said. "(It was the) first time these guys have been together for a little while too so we were a bit below par, we were a bit disappointed in some aspects but having viewed it again there were some very good things and some things that we certainly need to brush up on."
Following both teams elimination from the Tetley's Challenge Cup last weekend, Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield have agreed to re-arrange the date for their postponed Round Eight Super League clash at the Rapid Solicitor's Stadium which will now be played on Friday 26th July, kick off 8pm.
Rugby League fans will have the opportunity to put questions about the ongoing Policy Review and planned competition restructuring directly to RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood and RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer in a ground-breaking online question and answer session on Friday (May 17).