13th November 2018, 13:58 | englandrl

England vs New Zealand: Five things we learned from the series

England vs New Zealand: Five things we learned from the series

1.    The Top Three sides are closer than ever before

If we learned anything from the last twelve months in International Rugby League; Australia, New Zealand and England, are closer together than they have ever been since 2000. 

With Australia having to rebuild after the loss of their Slater-Cronk-Thurston axis and New Zealand rebuilding after a disappointing 2017, England look closer to the pacific sides that at any time over the last 20 years. 

Winger Tommy Makinson and centres Oliver Gildart and Jake Connor impressed for the Wall fo White in the test series, and with all potentially reaching their peak in 2021, England will look to the next World Cup with confidence. Without doubt, games between the top three in the next two years will be fascinating. 

2.     If you didn’t know who Tommy Makinson is, you definitely do now

Man of the Series, Tommy Makinson built upon an excellent Denver Test, where he scored a try, to register a hat-trick against the 2008 World Champions at Anfield. 

His wing-play throughout the series was excellent, and his biggest compliment was how hard the Kiwi edge defence concentrated on stopping the St Helens man in the third test. His Golden Boot win was a fine way to end an excellent year for England. 

 3.     Kodi Nikorima is a star in the making for New Zealand

In their consolation win against the English in the third test, a Kiwis half-back destroyed the English defence with quick thinking and incisive, controlling play. But for once, it was not Shaun Johnson who plagued the England nightmare in Leeds, but Kodi Nikorima. 

Nikorima was excellent against England and showed the way forward in future for the Kiwis. Coming off the back of an excellent season with Brisbane, and the 24 year-old announced himself to the Northern Hemisphere in true style in the series.

 4.     Tomkins/Williams combination promising for England

Creativity has often been an issue for the Wall of White in recent years, and the injury to Luke Gale seemed to point to a similar lack of fluency in the 2018 vintage. But partnering Wigan teammates Sam Tomkins and George Williams could point to the answer.

Williams and Tomkins continued their fine club form for the International side this term, controlling play and causing the Kiwi defence no end of problems with their running and kicking game. 

 5.     England’s depth is finally world-class

A lack of depth in positions outside of the forward pack has been a criticism of the English side in recent years, but a promising stint from George Williams, in addition to the return of Tomkins and the emergence of Jake Connor and Oliver Gildart will ease this worry.

Adding to the half-back dilemma for 2021 will be the emergence of Jake Trueman as a top level half-back, impressing for Castleford in 2018 and winning the Young Player of the Year award. Add in returning Kallum Watkins and England’s depth finally looks work-class.