An inspirational pre-match address from former Wigan Warriors forward Andy Platt helped the England Wheelchair team thrash North Queensland in their opening game of the five-match Tour of Australia.
Platt was involved in England’s build-up to the match as the Great Britain legend, who has settled in North Queensland after ending his playing career with Auckland Warriors, came to watch a training session, then presented the jerseys to the players on the eve of the match – and also attended the game.
Nathan Collins, an 18-year-old who starred for Leeds Rhinos in their first Wheelchair Challenge Cup triumph earlier this year, was the star in Townsville as he scored two of England’s 11 tries and landed six conversions for a personal haul of 20 points.
His Rhinos team-mate Ryan Richardson scored three tries, with two for Lewis King of the Kent-based Argonauts, and single scores from Joe Coyd, James Hazell and captain Jack Brown.
But England were happy to share the limelight with Gary Best, a youngster with Downs Syndrome who scored all three tries for the North Queensland team – to the delight of the local crowd, and ensuring substantial national media coverage for the first match of the Tour.
First game done and dusted. Great win over NQLD in Townsville. To be part of such a historical game has been brilliant. Thanks to the great crowd and everyone involved in making this happen. Wheelchair rugby league is here to stay @England_RL @daciauk #dacia pic.twitter.com/eqB7idQzrT— James Simpson (@simmoWhRL) October 15, 2019
England have now travelled south to Brisbane where they face Queensland in the second match of their Tour on Friday.