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England coach Wane is 'living the dream'

Head coach Shaun Wane "doesn't want this journey to end" as he prepares to lead England in the World Cup quarter-finals in his home town Wigan.

England head coach Shaun Wane says he is "honoured" as he prepares to lead his country in the last eight of the Rugby League World Cup in his home town of Wigan on Saturday.

The hosts face Papua New Guinea in the quarter-finals as they aim to take a step closer to a first global title.

Wane, who was born and still lives in Wigan, hopes his journey to the top inspires youngsters in his home town.

"This is special for me, I'm living the dream," said the England coach.

Wane coached Wigan Warriors for seven years with great success until stepping down in 2018 and was named England boss two years ago.

He said: "I've coached my home town club and then I got the call to coach my country. To be in a World Cup coaching, at the town where I live, it's unbelievably exciting for me.

"It's a great message to every youngster, not just in Wigan, that no matter what your start is you can achieve stuff. I'm honoured, I'm a proud Englishman and I can't wait for Saturday."

'This is going to be full on'

England have impressed in the World Cup, winning their three group games while scoring 196 points - but Wane is expecting a tougher test from Papua New Guinea.

"This is going to be full on," he said. "I thought the Samoa game would have been full on but it wasn't to be - they've improved massively since then.

"This will be a tough challenge, it's do or die, and they're really good. I've been really impressed with them.

"They're a very good team. They run hard, like they have for years, they're a tough nation and they defend like their lives depend on it. I've got a lot of respect for them.

"It's knockout rugby, so someone is going to be disappointed - but it can't be us. We need to be very good - but they need to be too."

Wane says he has decided his 17-man squad and has told the players his team.

The former prop forward hinted at a couple of changes to the side that kicked off the tournament with a 60-6 rout of Samoa.

"I know my team but I'm not going to share it," Wane said. "It's strong."

Skipper Sam Tomkins will return after being rested against Greece and centre Kallum Watkins has recovered from a knock, meaning Wane has a full quota of 24 to choose from.

"We've got two good physios and two good doctors who have done a great job," he said.

"It's not been an easy few days because I'm leaving people out who always start in their club teams.

"But we're all friends, it's a close group, and after having those conversations, we all know we have to win. It's a knockout game and I have to play a team in my heart I feel can get a job done on Saturday."

'It was pretty embarrassing'

England forward John Bateman sat alongside Wane at the pre-match media conference and admits the quarter-final offers a chance for redemption for Great Britain's humiliating defeat to Papua New Guinea in 2019.

Bateman is one of six members of Wane's squad who played in the shock 28-10 loss to the Kumuls in Port Moresby, which completed a clean sweep of defeats for the Lions on their 2019 tour under coach Wayne Bennett.

The Wigan loose forward was also in the England team that beat PNG 36-6 in the quarter-finals of the 2017 World Cup in Melbourne, but says the wounds from 2019 are still raw.

"It was pretty embarrassing," Bateman said. "The tournament as a whole was pretty embarrassing but especially that defeat.

"We'd not lost to them in so many years and they handed it to us. A few of the boys who played in that game are really looking forward to this weekend."


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