England aim for big finish
England's players will be reminded of the scare they endured in the last meeting with Papua New Guinea.
Last Updated: 04/11/10 3:45pm
England coach Steve McNamara plans to remind his players of the scare they endured in their last meeting with Papua New Guinea to ensure there will be no repeat in Saturday's face-saving Four Nations clash at Eden Park.
England were staring at a shock defeat when they trailed at half-time to the Kumuls in the opening match of the 2008 World Cup in Townsville before rallying to gain an unconvincing 32-22 victory, their only success of the tournament.
"We could have lost and it's in the memory of a couple of players who played in that game," said McNamara.
"They've spoken to the rest of the players about that game and we'll talk a bit more about it before we play this game.
"It's a different group this time around but we're certainly aware of the threats that Papua New Guinea can bring."
McNamara has made seven changes to the side that lost 34-14 to Australia in Melbourne last Sunday and will give first run-outs of the series to Harlequins centre Tony Clubb and Warrington prop Garreth Carvell.
Clubb, whose only previous international experience was against Wales in a World Cup warm-up match two years ago, takes over from Ryan Atkins while Carvell, a late call-up for the injured Adrian Morley, takes the bench spot of Eorl Crabtree.
They are the only members of England's 24-man squad yet to make an appearance on the tour but McNamara insists there was no sentiment involved in his selection.
"Tony has been a fantastic tourist," he said. "I couldn't have asked for more from him both on and off the field. He is enthusiastic in everything he does."
At 23, Clubb will be the oldest player in England's backline on Saturday alongside Sam Tomkins, 21, who retains the full-back spot, Ryan Hall, 23, Leroy Cudjoe, 22, and 20-year-old Tom Briscoe.
Leeds winger Hall is recalled, along with Huddersfield stand-off Kevin Brown, Melbourne full-back Gareth Widdop and Huddersfield prop Darrell Griffin.
Wigan skipper Sean O'Loughlin switches from stand-off to loose forward to make way for an all-Huddersfield half-back partnership of Brown and Luke Robinson.
The Wigan duo of winger Darrell Goulding (knee) and second rower Joel Tomkins (calf) were the only players ruled out through injury, although both could have played if necessary.
"I am happy with the players I have brought in," said McNamara, who remains upbeat over the long and short-term prospects for the national side despite their emphatic defeats by both Australia and New Zealand and believes he has the bulk of his personnel in place to make a serious push for glory in the 2013 World Cup.
"They have been one of the best groups I've ever worked with. I'm really pleased they've stayed strong and they're as keen and intent to perform now as they were from day one.
"They're disappointed and frustrated but they're happy and they're still going out as a group, even though they've slowed down a bit from the start of the tour."
The England squad organised their own visit to a natural spring and spa on a day off today before getting down to the business of Saturday's wooden-spoon decider.
"It's a very important game, we all understand that," said McNamara. "We've had some really positive stuff from this tournament and we've certainly got to make sure we finish strong this week.
"The players were a bit low on Sunday and there was the travel factor but we quickly got rid of that and I will say they practised well again yesterday.
"They are very intent, clear and focused about what we need to do to finish the tournament off in the right fashion in terms of the result and performance and make sure we set off back home with a spring in our steps."