England set for rare silverware
England are hoping to mark the 40th anniversary of the country's last major triumph by lifting some silverware on Sunday.
When Kevin Sinfield leads his team out for Sunday's final of the autumn international series against France at the Salford City Stadium, it will be 40 years exactly since the late Clive Sullivan held aloft the World Cup.
Great Britain drew 10-10 with Australia in Lyon on November 11, 1972, but were crowned champions by virtue of their 27-21 victory over the Kangaroos in the group stages.
England second-row forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan says that triumph will be in the minds of the 2012 team on Sunday, with next year's World Cup even more firmly in their sights.
"That group of men are seen as heroes and legends in the game and we now want to emulate what they achieved when the opportunity comes our way next year," he said.
Victory at Barton would cap another remarkable year for Jones-Buchanan's Leeds team-mate Sinfield, who captained the Rhinos to victory in both the World Club Challenge and the Super League Grand Final.
Sinfield, who has scored 40 points in his first two matches as captain, admits the long-term aim is the World Cup but insists his side are not taking their eye off Sunday's game, which will be England's last full international before taking on Australia in Cardiff next October.
"I think representing your country is huge," he said.
"Being given the honour of leading the team has been the biggest moment of my career, without a shadow of doubt, and to have a chance of lifting some silverware at the end of it is not only great for myself and the squad but for English rugby.
"The World Cup is in the back of everybody's mind and I think we're building for that but, being really honest, our focus is on Sunday's game.
"I think the aim of this tournament was to squeeze everything we could out of it in terms of building towards next year and we're not quite there yet."
Of course, beating France and Wales cannot be compared with toppling the Australians, but Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins says the squad will be fully motivated on Sunday.
"It doesn't matter who you play against, a final at international level is very special and we want to make sure that we finish off the autumn internationals with a trophy," Tomkins said.
Although coach Steve McNamara has yet to finalise his line-up, Tomkins will be given the chance to build on his record-breaking comeback in last Saturday's 44-6 win over the French.
His two tries in a 60-minute performance edged him front of Alf Ellaby as England's all-time leading tryscorer on 14 while wingmen Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe have good reasons for wanting to hold off the challenge of Josh Charnley by keeping their spots.
Hall needs one try to reach 150 in his career while Briscoe loves playing against France, having scored six tries in his last four meetings with them to draw level with Hall in the England list on nine.
The odds are stacked against the French, who have lost 14 matches in a row since gaining a 5-1 win over England February 21, 1981, which was only their seventh victory in 43 meetings.