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Hodgson defends returning Burgess

AAP logoAAP 30/10/2016 Ian McCullough

Canberra and England hooker Josh Hodgson has jumped to the defence of Sam Burgess following his all-action but ultimately unsuccessful return to international rugby league against New Zealand.

Burgess, in his first game as skipper of his country, was outstanding in the first half but less of a factor in the second as the impressive Martin Taupau and Jason Taumalolo stepped up for the Kiwis in their 17-16 win.

The South Sydney talisman was criticised by sections of the English media for his attempt at an audacious pass between his legs that flew over Ryan Hall's head late in the Four Nations game as England desperately tried to find a way to win.

He also gave away a crucial penalty that allowed the Kiwis early in the tackle count to clear the downfield as the home side pressed for victory.

But Hodgson said criticism of Burgess was unfair and undeserved.

"I thought it was a real captain's performance from him," Hodgson said.

"He carried the ball strong and he tackled hard and did a great job. We were all doing everything we could to win the game, none more so than Sam.

"I don't think any player should be singled out for us losing; we all have to take some of the blame.

"We're disappointed in ourselves. You can take losing when you do everything you can and it's not enough but we weren't at our best and that was disappointing."

England must now beat Scotland at Coventry on Saturday and then overcome Australia in London to have any hope of reaching the final at Anfield on November 20.

But Hodgson insists England still believe they can win the tournament.

"We know what we've got to do, we'll go back and improve on a few things," he said.

"We'll have to play well to beat Scotland and then we'll regroup and get ready for Australia. No-one in our team is thinking all is lost."

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