England coach Steve McNamara has named 20 of his 24-man Rugby League World Cup 2013 squad in the team to face Italy in the first ever senior international between the nations at Salford City Stadium on Saturday (4.30pm).
Warrington Wolves forward Ben Westwood is ruled out through suspension after receiving a one-match ban in the Super League Grand Final earlier this month. Wigan Warriors loose forward Sean O’Loughlin is rested and McNamara will play Leeds Rhinos back Zak Hardaker and South Sydney forward Tom Burgess in the England Knights team, who take on Samoa in the first of the double-header at Salford, kick off 2.00pm.
“We are delighted to be playing against Italy in the historic international,” said McNamara.
“This is the first time that both nations have played each other at this level and it should be ideal preparation before we take on Australia a week later in the opening game of the Rugby League World Cup 2013 in Cardiff. Italy have made tremendous progress and are well equipped with quality players representing them from the NRL and Super League.
“The make-up of the side looks very exciting, with the right blend of youth and experience. There is a great opportunity for the players to really push on and stake a claim for a start against Australia the following week.
“Our preparation has been first-class we have trained exceptionally well at our camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa. This is the best prepared side to come from England and we are ready for what promises to be the most competitive World Cup in history.”
The England team to face Italy at Salford City Stadium on Saturday October 19 2013, kick off 4.30pm is as follows (professional club and community club in brackets):
1 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
2 Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
3 Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Parkside)
4 Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
5 Tom Briscoe (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
6 Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers, Dannevirke Tigers)
7 Kevin Sinfield, captain (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)
8 James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
9 Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors, Queens)
10 Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors, Hensingham)
11 Gareth Hock (Widnes Vikings, Wigan St Judes)
12 Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
13 Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
14 Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
15 Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
16 Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm, King Cross)
17 Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
18 Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
19 James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
20 George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Note: The match is not an official Test match. Both sides will play with a minimum 20 players and unlimited interchange.
In partnership with Salford-based social landlord City West Housing Trust, children aged 16 and under accompanied by an adult can attend England v Italy (4.30pm) and England Knights v Samoa (2.00pm) for free on Saturday October 19 at Salford City Stadium.
Adult tickets cost £15 and £5 for concessions. To take advantage of the kids go free offer and to purchase tickets call 0844 856 1113 or visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk for further information.
Tickets for the opening ceremony of RLWC2013 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, featuring England v Australia (2.30pm) and Wales v Italy (4.30pm) cost from just £20 for adults and £10 for concessions. To purchase please visit www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.