England Rugby League Head Coach Wayne Bennett has selected his squad to take on Lebanon in the second game of Group A in the Rugby League World Cup at Allianz Stadium, Sydney on Saturday, November 4 (8.05pm AEDT).
Sam Burgess is the only change to the starting thirteen, after he was side-lined for three to four weeks with a medial knee ligament injury. He will be replaced in the second row by Ben Currie, who made his England debut against Australia last week after getting a late call up to replace Alex Walmsley who had been suffering from a virus.
Bennett has handed Walmsley a place in the matchday seventeen after Super League’s top metre-maker (4256m) overcame illness and has now resumed full training.
Lebanon, who are coached by former Australian international and New South Wales representative, Brad Fittler, won their opening fixture against France 29-18. Captained by Robbie Farah, the Cedars’ half-back Mitchell Moses capped off a fine performance with 13 points.
This will be the first time England and Lebanon have met in an international Test – the Cedars only started playing full internationals in 1998.
England landed in Sydney on Sunday and preparations for this game started on Monday with training at the Redfern Oval.
On the squad, Wayne Bennett, said: “We were unfortunate to lose Sam early in the game against Australia but received some good news and we can now possibly get him back sooner than anticipated.
“Apart from Sam, everyone is fit, healthy and good to go against Lebanon. Friday’s result was disappointing but the players have shown they wanted to get straight back into it and we had a great day in hot temperatures on Monday.
“Alex was in the match day squad last week and he was unlucky not to make the field. He’s feeling good again and I want to see what he can offer against Lebanon.”
On Lebanon, Bennett, added: “They’ve got NRL players in their squad and we know Brad will be getting the best out of them. They have got quality and we’re going to have to be good.”
England 21-man squad to play Lebanon:
1. Jonny Lomax
2. Jermaine McGillvary
3. Kallum Watkins
4. John Bateman
5. Ryan Hall
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Luke Gale
8. Chris Hill
9. Josh Hodgson
10. James Graham
11. Ben Currie
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Sean O’Loughlin
14. Alex Walmsley
15. Chris Heighington
16. Thomas Burgess
17. James Roby
18. George Williams
19. Mike McMeeken
20. Mark Percival
21. Stefan Ratchford
England’s World Cup schedule is as follows:
Saturday, November 4: England v Lebanon (Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney)
Sunday, November 12: England v France (Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth)
All of England’s Rugby League World Cup matches will be broadcast live on the BBC.