ADRIAN MORLEY feels England will need to close down his Warrington teammate Lee Briers if they are to make a winning start to their Gillette Four Nations campaign against Wales at Leigh Sports Village today (2.30).
The veteran prop has identified the 33-year-old stand-off as Wales’ biggest threat as the 100-1 outsiders look to make an impact on their tournament debut.
Briers, who is a year younger than his Wolves captain, won only one Great Britain cap – against France in 2001 – but is a proven competitor on the big stage, having starred for his country in a World Cup semi-final and for his club in a Cup final at Wembley.
“He’s the most experienced player out of the whole squad,” said Morley. “It’s great that he gets the chance to play in a tournament like the Four Nations.
“He’ll be the dangerman. I know him probably better than most. He’s a terrific player with some fantastic skills so we’re going to have to watch him.
“He’s gone very well this year. He’s looking after himself a lot better now. He really has been influential for the Warrington side.”
A Briers-led Welsh side will play with passion but logic, as well as history, is against them.
Scrum-half Ian Watson, who turned 35 yesterday, is the only player who was born the last time Wales won in England, a 6-2 success at Headingley in the 1977 European Championship.
Coach Iestyn Harris was at centre in Wales’ last victory over England, an 18-16 triumph in the 1995 European Championship at Ninian Park, but they have lost seven in a row since then and it would be a major upset if that run was to come to an end this afternoon.
Morley, who made his international debut in 1996, has been blown away by the professionalism of the England camp, in particular the meticulous attention to detail that has gone into their preparations for the Four Nations Series, and says there will be no excuse if the team come up short.
“It’s light years ahead of what it used to be like in terms of professionalism,” said Morley.
“When I first started playing first team there was a big drinking culture, a bit of old school, which I enjoyed to a degree.
“But when the Super League era came along that went out of the window and every year it gets more professional.
“We can’t have any excuses with the preparation we’ve had. We’re definitely giving ourselves the best chance.”
England: Tomkins (Wigan); Hall (Leeds), Reed (Brisbane), Yeaman (Hull), Briscoe (Hull); Sinfield (Leeds), R Chase (Castleford); Graham (St Helens), Roby (St Helens), Peacock (captain, Leeds), Ellis (Wests Tigers), Westwood (Warrington), Heighington (Wests Tigers). Subs: Widdop (Melbourne), Morley (Warrington), Jones-Buchanan (Leeds), Wilkin (St Helens).
Wales (from): Bracek (Crusaders), Briers (Warrington), Budworth (MacKay Cutters), Divorty (Featherstone), Dudson (Crusaders ), Flower (Crusaders), Frizell (Cronulla Sharks), James (South Wales Scorpions), James (Crusaders ), Jones (Halifax), Kopzcak (Bradford), Kear (Crusaders), Lupton (Crusaders), Roets (South Wales Scorpions), Seamark (Manly), Watson (Swinton), Webster (Central Comets), White (Crusaders), Williams (Warrington).
Referee: H Perenara (New Zealand).