Exciting NRL-bound Super League star Sam Tomkins says England's World Cup squad is the best he's played in, and warns other leading teams should write off the host nation at their own peril.
Tomkins, who will reportedly become the Warriors' highest-paid player when he links up with the New Zealand club next season, will be a key figure in England's World Cup campaign which begins against Australia on October 26 local time (October 27 AEDT).
When asked whether England could win the Cup on their home turf, Tomkins didn't hesitate.
"Definitely," Tomkins told England RL.
"I think we've got bags and bags of potential, but that doesn't win you anything, does it?” He said. “Everyone's got to make sure they do every little thing they can and that starts this week in camp, and everyone so far has been spot-on. If everyone can perform to their potential then we can do something special."
The 24-year-old has won two Super League titles, twice been named the Super League Player of the Year and was the RLIF Rookie of the Year in 2010, but says a World Cup win would be a clear career highlight.
"To win the World Cup would be absolutely everything. I've won trophies before with Wigan but I'd happily swap them for a World Cup," he said.
"You always play best when you've got good players around you and this team we've got this year is probably the best that I've been involved in."
The English last reached a World Cup final in 1995 and haven't won the tournament since 1972 – when Great Britain drew 10-10 with Australia in the final but took the title due to a better finish on the points table.
But despite their poor recent record, Tomkins says England can thrive under the pressure of performing in front of their home crowds.
"I think we've got to embrace that pressure and use it as a motivation," he said. "We know that that first game is going to be huge for us and winning that would give us and easier ride into the final, but we know that we're not playing a bad team in Australia – they're the best in the world.
"But if we play to our potential then there's no reason why we can't beat them."
The fullback warned Australian and New Zealand critics to not take his team lightly.
"[They] can write us off all they want but we believe in ourselves and we know what we can do and we know the potential in this side. We're not bothered what other people think."
The Rugby League World Cup opener between England and Australia will be broadcast live on 7mate at 12:30am on Sunday October 27, AEDT (11.30pm Saturday October 26, AEST).