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Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Chastened Smith refuses to panic

England and Leeds stand-off Danny McGuire
McGuire normally plays at half-back

England coach Tony Smith says he will not be rushed into making changes following his side's record World Cup loss to defending champions Australia.

Leon Pryce is a doubt after sustaining a rib injury against the Kangaroos while Rob Burrow was poked in an eye.

But Smith said: "We will review the game and see what changes need to happen, if any."

Ex-Great Britain international Jonathan Davies says Smith should consider selecting Danny McGuire at full-back.

"What have England got to lose?" asked Davies. "I think Paul Wellens is a great player but we need pace from the back to attack.

"If you put McGuire or Lee Smith at full-back, you have a threat.

"They'd also share the kicking game with Kevin Sinfield, releasing Pryce and Burrow to do their own thing.

"Burrow would be able to control the game while Pryce would be able to concentrate on being the devastating runner he is."

Smith scored a hat-trick from the wing in England's opening 32-22 win over Papua New Guinea, but he missed Sunday's 52-4 defeat by the Kangaroos in Melbourne with a foot injury.

England were not organised in attack or defence... I've never seen so many players play so badly collectively

Jonathan Davies
It was England's worst loss at a World Cup, eclipsing the 49-6 reverse at the hands of New Zealand in the 2000 semi-finals.

"I didn't think they would lose by that much," added Davies.

"I thought the pack would be powerful and the defence organised, but they looked as though they were caught in the headlights for the first 10 minutes. They made stupid, little mistakes."

Davies felt Smith's team got the basics wrong, particularly in defence, and paid a heavy price for losing their composure.

"I've never played against a poor Australian side in league or union," said the Welshman.

"When you come up against the likes of Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Ricky Stuart and Darren Lockyer, they are going to do brilliant things and it's up to you to read them.

"What you don't do is step out the defensive line to make those things easier for them. You hold your line, defend as a team and communicate.

"England were not organised in attack or defence. I've never seen so many players play so badly collectively.

"Test rugby is all about quick play-the-ball, winning the ruck and a good kicking game. It's like a game of chess. If you can't do the basics well, you are under pressure straight away."

Psychologically, Davies believes the loss to Australia might take some getting over.

"You only had to look at Jamie Peacock at the end of the game," said Davies. "He didn't know what to do or what to say."

But he urged England to forget about the defeat and focus on Saturday's Pool A game against New Zealand.

"The game at international level isn't that different from Super League," said Davies.

"The only difference is the intensity and speed. The basic principles are still the same. The players have just got to switch on mentally."

see also
Brian Noble column
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 52-4 England
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Smith left humbled by record loss
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Stuart promises no Aussie let-up
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
World Cup pictures
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
England 32-22 Papua New Guinea
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup squads
14 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup 2008 fixtures
08 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup on the BBC
06 Oct 08 |  Rugby League

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