Chris McQueen of England is tackled during the Pacific Test match between England and the Samoa Toa Samoa at Campbelltown Stadium.
Chris McQueen of England is tackled during the Pacific Test match between England and the Samoa Toa Samoa at Campbelltown Stadium. CRAIG GOLDING

McQueen makes his debut

Rugby League: Former Kingaroy Red Ant Chris McQueen made his debut for England in their 30-10 win over Samoa at the weekend.

It followed a week of controversy for the Gold Coast Titans star, who was forced to defend his selection by coach Wayne Bennett amidst media furore over his decision to play for England instead of Australia.

Bennett's decision to go with eight NRL players was widely criticised in the UK, but the proof was on the park as the Brits ran riot over the Anthony Milford-led Samoa at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

It was a quiet introduction to international rugby league for McQueen, who started on the bench and played just 16 of the 80 minutes.

Bennett's sparing use of the former Maroon was unlikely to be due to the week's criticism, but rather England's dominance on the park.

The 14-0 scoreline at half-time was not reflective of the run of play, and although some brilliance from Joey Leilua and Anthony Milford put Samoa within striking distance midway through the second half, England never really looked challenged.

Canterbury Bulldogs star James Graham was electric for the Brits, crossing to seal the game in the 74th minute and making 17 runs for a staggering 161m.

Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson was equally brilliant, with the ball on a string in the middle of the park as he combined with halves Luke Gale and Kevin Brown.

But despite arguably the most complete English performance in recent memory, Bennett has still come under the microscope in the British media for not playing English-based players Mark Percival, Alex Walmsley and Scott Taylor.

With five months to go before England face their sternest test - Australia in the World Cup opener - it appears even wins will not appease nay-sayers of the legendary coach.

As always expect Bennett to pay no attention, and McQueen to make an impact when given his chance.