England rack up huge score against France
The scorecard says England posted 15 tries in an 84-4 humiliation of France – but St George Illawarra's debutant Mike Cooper was adamant there were actually 16.
"I did score, actually," said the man who made his debut at Leigh Sports Village, from Warrington via Wollongong, in a match which France coach Richard Agar reckoned England would have got little from in preparation for their upcoming Test series against New Zealand.
Cooper, 27, crossed in the 30th minute and looked furious when referee James Child ruled he had been held up.
"I put the ball down and the lad put his hand underneath," the former Warrington Wolf said.
"But today I've come full circle from when I left
"It's not finished yet. I want a Test jersey against the Kiwis and I want to beat them. This is not by any means the end of what I want to do."
It was a proud moment for a forward who packed up everything and moved to Australia when just a fringe player in Super League. But the disallowed try gave his Dragons team-mate Gareth Widdop something to keep him grounded.
"All the other debutants got tries tonight except him!" Widdop told NRL.com.
"It was a big move for him. He flew under the radar over here and went over there and made a name for himself. It's great to play alongside him at club level and to now have the opportunity at national level."
With France fielding half a dozen part-timers, Saturday's international was rarely more than a procession. Man of the match John Bateman and Brett Ferres each posted hat-tricks while winger Ryan Hall and hooker James Roby got try braces.
But according to Agar, rival Steve McNamara wouldn't have got much more out of the match than he did.
"England looked slick at times but it was hard to get a gauge because at times it was like a training run for them," Agar, also the assistant coach at Warrington, said.
"As French coach, I got nothing out of it. You'll have to ask Steve (McNamara) but I wouldn't have thought either of us would have envisaged it as a useful exercise given the playing strengths of both teams."
Rugby union convert Sam Burgess was a visitor to the England sheds at fulltime. He chatted in the tunnel with fullback Sam Tomkins, who is the only casualty to come back into McNamara's team.
It would not surprise to see Tomkins force Zak Hardaker into the centres with Bateman to fill a utility role on the bench at Hull's KC Stadium next Sunday.
England 84 (Ferres 3, Bateman 2, Hall 2, Roby 2, Watkins, Hodgson, Burgess, Farrell, Williams, Burgess tries; Widdop 12 goals) def France 4 (Arnaud try) at Leigh Sports Village. Crowd: 8,380.