Former Warrington head coach Tony Smith believes that although there were encouraging signs in the world cup final, England were flattered by their 6-0 loss to Australia.

Rated as 7/1 outsiders and given an 18-point start with most bookmakers, England, who were appearing in their first final for 22 years, very nearly shocked the Kangaroos in Brisbane

Boy Cordner’s early try proved to be the only difference in a war of attrition, as Wayne Bennett’s side huffed and puffed but were unable to break through their opponents’ line.

Despite the close score and praising England’s attitude, Smith told BBC Radio 5 Live that he still believes there is a sizeable gap between the two nations.

“It was a strong display from England,” he said. “They showed a lot of passion, worked tirelessly for each other and can be proud of their effort.

“There is no question that they have represented the country well and have given a great account of themselves when everyone in England was watching them.

“While it was encouraging, I think you have to say that Australia are still a much better side at the moment and to some degree the score flattered England.”

After winning his second Super League title with Leeds in 2007, Smith was appointed Great Britain coach before leading England into the last World Cup on Australian soil in 2008.

However, he oversaw a disappointing campaign as England were beaten twice by New Zealand and hammered 52-4 by Australia – leaving his role as head coach shortly after the tournament.

Lacking direction

England’s improvements since that nightmare nine years ago are clear to see, however their lack of creativity while attacking the Kangaroos line was again evident on Saturday.

The stats showed that they completed at 11 percent below Australia despite having the same possession, and this is an area where Smith believes England need to improve drastically.

“Australia have world class players in the key positions,” he said. “When you take a step back it’s not hard to see where we are falling short, and it’s the same areas of the field every year.

“The difference is they have the players who can take hold of a game. They are good decision-makers who step up when it matters, that’s where we are lacking.

“We have been saying for years that England match the Australian forwards, they even arguably have a slight edge, but some of the brains trust of the team is just that much better at this stage.

“Until we start producing world class players in the key positions, those that are smart with the ball, then England will always be second. It’s up to the sport here to develop those players.”