By Adam Etherington
Kallum Watkins believes that England are perfectly placed to continue their pattern of improvement as they head into their Rugby League World Cup 2013 quarter-final against France at the DW Stadium, Wigan, on Saturday (8.00pm).
The centre, who has started all three games so far in the competition, knows France will provide another stern test for the host nation but thinks England are just getting better as the tournament progresses.
England beat Fiji 34-12 last Saturday after a scintillating second half display in which they scored six tries in 18 minutes to book their place in the last eight and Watkins expects to face a physical and dangerous French team on Saturday in front of anothger bumper crowd.
Over 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the quarter-final and fans are advised to move quickly to secure their seat for what is expected to be a memorable encounter.
“I think there is still a lot more to come from us,” said Watkins. “I think we need to combine the good patches that we have shown in all three games, and try and build it into an 80-minute performance, which we will need to do in the knockout games.
“France are a really strong side with bags of experience, and on their day they can tear anyone apart. We expect a physical game, and their Super League experience should help them for these occasions.
“We have got to focus on ourselves though, and if we manage to do the things that we have worked on in training, we should be okay. Hopefully we can come away with a good performance, but the result is first and foremost.”
The winner on Saturday could face reigning champions New Zealand at Wembley the following week, a prospect that Leeds Rhinos star Watkins is trying not to focus on just yet, in his first ever World Cup.
“I am loving my first experience of this tournament,” said Watkins. “It is amazing to be a part of a top group, and representing England in a World Cup is something I have dreamt of since I was a child.
“Wembley sounds good, but we are trying not to look at it, instead just taking it game by game. It is a big match coming up this week, and the focus on France is more important than anything in the future.
“With all the players that are in this squad, we relish knockout games. We have a lot of players used to the Super League format at this time of year, and we know what to expect. Hopefully we can bring the confidence we gained on Saturday into this match.”
A limited number of tickets for the England v France RLWC2013 quarter-final at the DW Stadium, Wigan, on Saturday are still available and cost from as little as £15 for adults and £7.50 for concessions. To purchase your ticket, please visit www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.