Stuart Pearce rallies England Rugby World Cup squad ahead of Greece game

England’s preparations for their final Rugby League World Cup group game with Greece have been helped by a football motivational speech Stuart Pearce. The 60-year-old, who has represented England at two major tournaments as a player, was invited to camp on Wednesday to share his experiences representing his country at the highest level.

Pearce is a strong supporter of rugby league and with England manager Shaun Wane also having bonded with Gareth Southgate in recent years, Wane said he wants his players to get a taste of as many different sports as possible.

“He spoke to us. He’s an impressive Englishman,” Wane said of Pearce. “He is very passionate and presented himself very well to the group. I think he also got a lot from us. He spoke very positively about the experience. It’s really important to have other people. We had important discussions with Stuart. He’s a very humble man.”

Wane invited Pearce and Southgate to England games as the tournament progressed. “I spoke to Gareth via text about a few things and invited him to any of our games depending on our progress,” he said.

England have won their first two games and have already progressed to the quarter-finals ahead of Saturday’s match at Sheffield. St Helens’ Joe Batchelor will make his Test debut in a rotating squad.

He said he enjoyed the experience of being in Pearce’s company. “It was great to have someone with his experience; he knows how to represent his country at the highest level. He’s a leader, that’s what he’s known for. He gave us some lessons on that experience of being on a team playing in major tournaments.

Wigan striker Kai Pearce-Paul will also make his first Test appearance and George Williams will captain the team in the absence of Sam Tomkins.

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