England Rugby League most avoid a surprise defeat in their final Group A game of the 2017 Rugby League world cup in order to progress through to next weekend’s knock out stage and a possible game against PNG or Ireland in Melbourne.
Head Coach Wayne Bennett has decided to make some changes to his 17 that beat the lowly ranked Lebanon so unconvincingly in their last match, whilst also ensuring that all of his squad has had a runout over the group stages with Mark Percival, Kevin Brown, Mike McMeeken and Scott Taylor or getting their first game of the world cup. Wing man Jermaine McGillvary is also included after being found not Guilty of the ‘Biting’ accusation made by Lebanese captain Robbie Farah during their last match.
Gareth Widdop reverts to the full back position he played during his younger days, while Stefan Ratchford reverts to the left wing in place of Ryan Hall and will form a new partnership with Mark Percival who replaces Kallum Watkins in the centre. Over on the right flank, John Bateman has again been named in centres for the fourth game in arrow and will again be partnered by McGillivary.
With Widdop dropping to full back, Warrington’s Kevin Brown comes in at stand off to partner Luke Gale in the half backs, while George Williams reminds on the bench for the second game in a row.
In the pack Bennett has kept faith with starting props Chris Hill and James Graham, although there is a change at Hooker with James Roby getting his first start of the world cup in place of Josh Hodgeson. In the only change to the back row, Castleford’s dream team second row forward Mike McMeeken comes in to partner Ben Currie in place of Elliot Whitehead and Sean O’Loughlin will again captain the side from loose forward.
On the bench Alex Walmsley and Tom Burgess retain their places along with Williams but are joined by Hull FC prop Scott Taylor who will get his third England cap of the bench!
England: Gareth Widdop, Stefan Ratchford, Mark Percival, John Bateman, Jermaine McGillvary, Kevin Brown, Luke Gale; Chris Hill, James Roby, James Graham, Ben Currie, Mike McMeeken, Sean O'Loughlin (c).
Interchange: Alex Walmsley, Tom Burgess, Scott Taylor, George Williams.