England players have taken fans inside the fiery team meetings that led to a series victory over Tonga followed by a television tirade from coach Shaun Wane.
An international audience was left stunned when Wane labelled comments by Mate Ma’a Tonga in the lead-up to the second Test – won 14-4 by the host nation at John Smiths Stadium – “disgraceful” in a sustained outburst on TV.
England’s Chris Hill appeared to to be separated at full-time from Tonga’s Addin Fonua-Blake, who had said after the first Test “we lost the game ourselves, I don’t feel like they beat us”.
Wane told BBC at full-time: “After the things what have been said about us this week from the opposition, some of it was disgraceful.
“They wanted a firmer ground, they got a firm ground. They didn’t win. That was a big driving factor this week, some of the things that were said.
“We don’t do what they do. We’ve got our own way of having spirit… the lads are angry about it, that we didn’t win, we didn’t deserve it… all them comments. That was a massive motivator for us and we want to finish this off next week.
“All those comments were full on, so 3-0 is the most important thing.”
In persistent rain, England again handled the conditions far better than a Mate Ma’a line-up that split plenty of ball and conceded far too many penalties, Warrington’s Matty Ashton scoring his first two Test tries in the fifth and 35th minutes for a 12-0 half-time lead.
At 14-0, Tolu Koula’s 56th minute unconverted try didn’t really look like it was going to keep the series alive.
NRL.com approached several England players in a bid to understand Wane’s clear animosity toward the tourists. On TV, halfback Harry Smith said most of the build-up had been relaxed but on match eve the coach had made an issue of Woolf and Fonua-Blake’s quotes.
Winger Tom Johnstone said: “This week we came in with due respect, we gave them what we thought they deserved. We felt it wasn’t quite reciprocated in certain areas, with some of their comments after the game.
“It’s a Test match. To come out and say you didn’t lose it, you let the other team win and other things like that … it’s a bit disrespectful to the other team that’s just put in a performance.”
Forward Mike McMeeken insisted the match eve was “relaxed” and “we didn’t need much firing up”, adding “we’re not the type of people who will say anything anyway”.
But Ashton commented: “There was a bit of disrespect from Tonga during the week and he highlighted that for us.
“The English way, the English standard is that you never disrespect anyone. That put a bit of fire in the belly for the boys to get a win and show them what we can do and win convincingly and not just think we got lucky.
“It was just little comments made during the week that made us remember what we’re here for, that we’ve got a job to do. I’m just happy we got the win for Waney because his put the pride into us, put in the effort and we’ve paid him back I think.”
Hill refused to reveal what had been said between him and Warrior Fonua-Blake after the full-time siren.
“It was just offering my pension when I retire,” he said.