England coach Matt Bagley issued a warrior’s call to his team as they prepared for their opening World Championship game against the Iroquois Nationals in Denver.
Four years of preparation has come down to the sharp end as the 23-players went through final scrimmage games and athletic assessment before game time Friday.
“All the signs are good and we have a very exciting and explosive England team,” he said. “We are solid back to front and we will run a no fear offence and no fear defence, just as we did in the Euros.
“I’ve been involved with England since 2008 and this is by far the most talented England roster we have been able to put together so it is very exciting to see what these guys can do in Denver.
“We’re going out to play the ball, putting pressure on opponents and forcing them to make plays and work really hard to create scoring opportunities. We have that ability with our very quick and agile defenders.
“Up front we have dynamic attackers so we feel very strong. There are plenty of X-factors in a tournament but the way the team has come together has been impressive.
“We are all determined to give it our best shot and do the country proud.”
“Everyone has worked really, really hard to get here and we should recognize the sacrifices all the team and coaches have made.”
England played scrimmage games this week to gel the team and assess the demands of playing at altitude but the first big test comes in the epic opener against the Iroquois on Friday evening, Denver time.
The Iroquois missed out on the 2010 World Championships in Manchester after a passport and travel visa fiasco so will be hungry to prove a point. And they have the Thompsons!
“It will be an emotional game. They have a lot of phenomenal players and we will have to look out for anyone with the last name Thompson out on the field,” smiled Bagley, who played in 2010 before becoming head coach and leading England to the 2012 European Championship triumph.
“It was a real shame they were not able to step onto the field in Manchester and the tournament felt like there was something missing without them. They are back, stronger than ever, and hopefully we can play a good game against them.
“I don’t know how they feel about playing England but from our perspective it is an honour to be on the same field as the Iroquois and we are very excited to play them and share the field with them.”
The games come thick and fast for England with Canada, the opponents on Saturday evening, followed by Australia, USA and Japan on consecutive days.
“We are in good shape and confident about what we can do,” added Bagley. “Every team is wildly optimistic before a tournament and a lot depends on the day and what is in front of you. We are in the top division and are one of the best teams in the world and a good performance would be great for the game in England and to set up the 2018 World Championships.