In-form New Zealand centre Dean Whare says England deserve to start favourites in their World Cup semi-final. Credit: SWpix.com Copyright: SWpix.com
Despite what many pundits are expecting, New Zealand centre Dean Whare says England are the favourites in this weekend's World Cup semi-final against the world champion Kiwis.
"I believe England are favourites for this game. We're playing England on their home ground, we haven't beaten England since 2005 over here," Whare told NRL.com.
"They're a very strong side [with] home ground advantage, they've had a few comfortable wins too so it will be tough on Saturday night and we'll be looking forward to the challenge.
"[They have a] big strong forward pack, bigger outside backs – all over they're a big squad, they're playing some good footy from what I've seen. We've just got to be up for the battle on Saturday night and it should be a good one."
Whare said he is pleased with the combinations the side is developing, particularly down the right edge, which has helped make the Kiwis the tournament's highest scoring side after four games.
"I've played three games so far in this tournament and trying to build on each performance so pretty happy with my performance so far," he said.
"The boys are gelling well from our first game to our last game, I think it's just the combinations, working well with my winger and all the men inside me.
"We've got a great combination there with Sonny [Bill Williams] and Shaun [Johnson] and Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck]," he said.
"Last week [we] made some good metres down that right edge. Our right side's working really well at the moment, we're gelling really well and our combinations are going good."
The side has been in dominant form in its four games so far against less recognised teams but faces a step up in class in Saturday's semi-final against England. Whare said coach Steve Kearney wants the side to focus on itself rather than the opposition and spend the week getting the little things right.
"This weekend's more about us and completing sets, just doing all the little things we can during the week and trying to [apply] those into the game. Just more simple play for us this week, and trying to stay in the grind."