Rugby League World Cup: England ready for Australia opener

Last updated: 26th October 2013   Subscribe to RSS Feed

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England will be out to provide the perfect response to a tumultuous week when they take on Australia in the World Cup opener at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Steve McNamara's side have had far from the ideal build up to the tournament having lost their warm-up match against Italy last weekend.

The disruption continued during the week as Gareth Hock was omitted from the squad after reportedly failing to turn up for a training camp.

James Graham has now been left out of the 19-man squad for the clash with the Kangaroos amid speculation he was one of a number of players to defy a ban on alcohol.

McNamara refused to address any of the reports when he walked out of a press conference on the eve of the tournament, and a heavy defeat on Saturday will only serve to increase the pressure on the coach.

He has named the three Burgess brothers in his 19-man squad while Brett Ferres, who was drafted in as a replacement for Hock on Tuesday, is also included.

Uncapped second rower Liam Farrell makes the 19 but his Wigan team-mate Sean O'Loughlin has been ruled out after he failed to recover from injury.

Australia have included Brent Tate in the centres as he has edged out Michael Jennings for the starting spot in place of the injured Justin Hodges.

Robbie Farah is named on the bench with Sheens having a definite game plan for using the Wests Tigers hooker to target the big England forwards later in the game, with Cameron Smith then likely switching to loose forward.

England squad: Ablett, G Burgess, S Burgess, T Burgess, Burrow, Charnley, Chase, Cudjoe, Farrell, Ferres, Hall, Hill, Mossop, Roby, Sinfield (capt), Tomkins, Watkins, Westwood, Widdop.

Australia: Slater, Morris, Tate, Inglis, Boyd, Thurston, Cronk, Scott, Smith (capt), Tamou, Bird, Thaiday, Gallen.

Interchange: (from) Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Luke Lewis, Corey Parker, Jarryd Hayne, Nate Myles.