England coach Shaun Wane wanted Tonga whitewash ‘so badly’

By Sports Desk November 04, 2023

England boss Shaun Wane admitted he wanted to clinch a series whitewash over Tonga “so badly” following their 26-4 victory at the AMT Headingley.

The hosts were keen to secure a clean sweep from the start of the tie and crossed the whitewash twice in the first 26 minutes thanks to Ben Currie and Matty Ashton.

Both teams finished the half with a temporary man less after Matty Lees and Keon Koloamatangi were sent to the sin bin for a scuffle which caused a mass brawl.

England took no prisoners in the second half and cruised into an unassailable lead as Elliott Whitehead marked his final cap with a try before Harry Newman crossed for his first international score, but England’s defence was finally breached when Eliesa Katoa grabbed a consolation for the visitors.

Wane was proud of his players throughout the series and thinks they deserve full credit for a 3-0 success.

He said: “Unbelievable approach what we’ve done and how we’ve done it.

“I’ve nothing but praise for the players, the main mention is to them. I so badly wanted to win this game, no matter what. Two-nil didn’t matter to me, so to win in this fashion is great. I was desperate.

“You look at how the players have behaved and I think they’ve been outstanding and they’ll go from strength to strength.

“We stuck to our task well and they can play, athletic, big, they tested us, but the desire to defend and the detail was absolutely outstanding.

“We’ve got a really good team spirit, it’s very much like a club team. We spend time with each other and there is no club cliques and that’s been the most satisfying thing for me. We look like a club team and that’s why we’ve got the success today.”

Wane still has nightmares about England’s World Cup semi-final defeat last year but insists his side will now get stronger and did not think they would limit Tonga to just five tries in three games.

He added: “It will always haunt me, it doesn’t make it better, but how we played that game will always be there.

“I never thought we could manage that (five tries in three games). You look at their talent, that was a tough ask and you look at the physical side, big athletes, so to do that, the credit the players deserve is untrue.

“I’d love to do another three weeks. I’m back to walking my dogs next week and I’d love to do another three weeks. We’ve had a great time.

“When you score tries like that, it beggars belief when you hear stupid comments about us not being entertaining.”

Tonga boss Kristian Woolf handed full credit to England following the defeat but was proud of his team.

He said: “England were exceptionally good. Sometimes you have to sit back and applaud the tries they came up with, good tries and some good plays, they did a good job of scrambling.

“We didn’t deserve the scoreline if you look at the effort, I was proud.

“We showed up with a great attitude and I thought we showed that throughout the game and when the score looked like it could have blown out we hung in, we kept defending and trying to find points.

“We were disappointed to go down 3-0, there’s no doubt about that, and we’re certainly disappointed in the scoreline, but I’m not disappointed with the way our group have come over here. They have put their footy first and I’m very proud of them as a group of players.”

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