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  • O'Loughlin, Burgess, Watkins,
    Goals: Sinfield (3),
18 - 20

New Zealand

  • Johnson, Tuivasa-Sheck (2),
    Goals: Johnson (4),
  • Rugby League World Cup
  • Semi Final
  • 23rd Nov 2013
  • KO 13:00
  • Att: 67,545

Rugby League World Cup semi-final: England v New Zealand preview

Last updated: 23rd November 2013   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Sonny Bill Williams New Zealand

Sonny Bill Williams: The man England will need to watch at Wembley this weekend

 Gareth Widdop England RLWC

Gareth Widdop: Starts for England in Saturday's Rugby League World Cup semi-final

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England are aiming to reach their first Rugby League World Cup final since 1995 when they meet New Zealand at Wembley in Saturday's semi-final double-header.

Australia and New Zealand have contested the last two finals, winning one apiece. The Kangaroos came out on top at Old Trafford in 2000 before the Kiwis exacted revenge in Brisbane five years ago.

England suffered a 16-8 loss at Wembley in '95 despite the Kangaroos leaving out the big names who had signed for NRL clubs and Steve McNamara's men are the underdogs in Saturday's contest.

While England have been far from their best so far in the tournament, including suffering a 28-20 loss to Australia to open their campaign, New Zealand have been ruthless in all four of their victories.

England were patchy in last weekend's 34-6 triumph over Wigan while Stephen Kearney's Kiwis did what was needed to brush aside Scotland 40-4 at Headingley.

McNamara has made three changes to his starting line-up with Gareth Widdop, James Roby and Brett Ferres coming in, Chris Hill and Carl Ablett dropping to the bench and Rangi Chase and Michael McIlorum missing out completely.


Widdop had been tipped to star in the tournament but has played just 54 minutes.

The Halifax-born start starts alongside captain Kevin Sinfield in the halves, with Rob Burrow another option to be used off the bench.

NRL star Sam Burgess will be expected to lead the line for England while the Kiwis have a superstar of their own in the shape of Sonny Bill Williams, who is regarded as one of the world's best rugby players.

New Zealand have been forced into one change with Jason Nightingale drafted in on the winger after Manu Vatuvei was ruled out of the semi-final with a knee injury.

St George Illawarra man Nightingale has featured once for the Kiwis in the tournament so far, playing in their victory over France after Vatuvei was rested for the contest.

England: S Tomkins (Wigan); J Charnley (Wigan), K Watkins (Leeds), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (Melbourne), K Sinfield (Leeds, capt); S Burgess (South Sydney), J Roby (St Helens), J Graham (St Helens), B Ferres (Huddersfield), B Westwood (Warrington), S O'Loughlin (Wigan).

Subs: R Burrow (Leeds), G Burgess (South Sydney), C Hill (Warrington), C Ablett (Leeds).

New Zealand: K Locke (NZ Warriors); R Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), D Whare (Penrith), B Goodwin (South Sydney), J Nightingale (St George Illawarra); K Foran (Manly), S Johnson (NZ Warriors); J Waerea Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), I Luke (South Sydney), J Bromwich (Melbourne), A Glenn (Brisbane), S B Williams (Sydney Roosters), S Mannering (NZ Warriors, capt).

Subs: E Taylor (NZ Warriors), S Kasiano (Canterbury Bulldogs), B Matulino (NZ Warriors), F-P Nu'uausala (Sydney Roosters).

Referee: B Cummins (Australia).

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