2 Nov 2014

Australian dominance under threat

1:35 pm on 2 November 2014

England can land an important blow for the health of international rugby league if they win their Four Nations clash against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday.

James Graham

James Graham Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Australia have dominated rugby league for a generation, but a resurgent England can write a new chapter in the game with a victory over the world champions at AAMI Park on Sunday.

And with NRL stars James Graham, George and Tom Burgess, Sam Tomkins and Gareth Widdop they have a strong line-up.

There have been several new dawns promised.

New Zealand's win in the 2008 World Cup was one, but since then the Kangaroos resumed almost total dominance.

But cracks have appeared in Australia's injury-hit side, as seen in their 30-12 loss to New Zealand last week.

If the Kangaroos lose, it will be first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1954 that they haven't been in the final of a major international tournament.

It would be a blow to the Kangaroos' pride and status but it would be a shot in the arm for the international game and for the code in its birthplace England.

James Graham's side are well aware of that after their narrow win over Samoa last week.

England have been careful not to talk publicly about their chance to knock Australia out of the Four Nations, but prop Chris Hill knows just how important a victory would be back home.

"We have talked about getting the win and securing our place in the final and kicking on to New Zealand next week. It would be massive for the country," Hill said.

"Obviously a lot of people are saying the Aussie team isn't as good as it was in the World Cup, but no matter what Aussie team they put out, you can put out 10 or 12 Aussie teams and they would go well."

Hill says the Burgess brothers and Graham will be key figures up front against an undermanned Australian front-row.

"It's good to have the Burgess boys in here with the NRL experience and give us a few tips about playing against these guys week in week out.

"And James is a great leader, an inspiration to all the boys for what he has done over here."