England Rugby League Team

 

By John Davidson, Date: 9/11/17 (Photo Credit NRLPhotos)

Venue: Perth Rectangular Stadium, Western Australia

TV Kick-off time: Sunday 12th November 2017, 6pm AWST

A new-look England will take on France on Sunday and seek to secure secure spot in the World Cup’s Group A.

England are in pole position to make the quarter-finals in Melbourne and finish in second place, with a match-up against Papua New Guinea likely. Victory over the French in the Perth double-header will ensure that, with Australia expected to defeat Lebanon in Sydney.

Wayne Bennett has remodeled his side for Sunday’s match with several players getting their first opportunity to play in the tournament. Gareth Widdop has been moved to fullback, with Kevin Brown instead partnering Luke Gale in the halves. Stefan Ratchord is on the wing, while Mark Percival has been named in the centres. Ryan Hall, Kallum Watkins, Elliot Whitehead and Chris Heighington have all been left out.

Josh Hodgson has also been rested, with James Roby starting at hooker, and Mike McMeeken gets a chance to show what he can do in the second-row. Scott Taylor will also make his World Cup debut off the bench. Sam Burgess is still recovering from his medial ligament injury.

Bennett is after improvement after a scratchy England win over Lebanon in Sydney. England have yet to fully hit their straps in this tournament, despite being one of the favourites. They did receive a big boost mid-week when winger Jermaine McGillvary was cleared of an alleged bite on Robbie Farah.

Brown is over the moon to finally get his chance to play in the World Cup and to try and impress his coach. He says competition for places in the England squad has been strong.

“It’s the pinnacle of my career,” Brown said.

“I’ve played in a Four Nations and some mid-season Test matches, but to actually play in a World Cup is something I’ll remember forever. Internal competition is great, it’s what you want in your Test teams.

“We’ve got that. It helps in training when you’re really being pushed. I’ve had to sort of play a different role than I do [at] club [level]. It’s something I always tell the young lads when they don’t get picked, to react positively and still give the team a bit of benefit from you not playing.

“I couldn’t talk the talk and not walk the walk. I’ve got my head down and impress as much as I can on the training field, and put as much pressure on some fantastic halfbacks who were in front of me.”

For France, the motivation is to finish the World Cup on a positive note. A disappointing loss to Lebanon first up, followed by a strong performance against Australia but still a defeat, has left them floundering.

This has been following by the sending home of hooker Eloi Pelissier for breaking team curfew. France has a very, very slim chance of reaching the quarter-finals if they can beat England and Lebanon are thrashed by the Kangaroos. But Les Tricolores haven’t beaten the Poms in several years and would need to pull off a huge upset in the WA capital.

Lucas Albert has been named in the halves alongside skipper Theo Fages, while,Damien Cardace gets a shot in the centres. Remy Marginet makes way for Albert and goes to the bench,

St Helens halfback Fages has been captaining the team in the absence of injured prop Remy Casty. He was proud of the way France gave their all against Australia.

“All the boys played their hardest,” he said.

“We were playing against the best team in the world, so we had to keep our standards up. We [were] still 50 points down but the effort was there, no-one gave up and we played for eighty minutes. I was proud of the boys for that. In some patches we did some good stuff.”

ENGLAND
1 Gareth WIDDOP
2 Stefan RATCHFORD
3 Mark Percival
4 John BATEMAN
5 Jermaine MCGILLVARY
6 Kevin Brown
7 Luke GALE
8 Chris HILL
9 James ROBY Josh HODGSON
10 James GRAHAM
11 Ben CURRIE
12 Mike McMEEKAN
13 Sean O’LOUGHLIN (c)
14 Alex WALMSLEY
15 Thomas BURGESS
16 Scott TAYLOR
17 George WILLIAMS
18 Ryan HALL
19 Elliott WHITEHEAD
20 Chris HEIGHINGTON
21 Kallum WATKINS

FRANCE
1 Mark KHEIRALLAH
2 Fouad YAHA
3 Bastien ADER
4 Damien CARDACE
5 Ilias BERGAL
6 Theo FAGES (c)
7 Lucas ALBERT
8 Antoni MARIA
9 John BOUDEBZA
10 Julian BOUSQUET
11 Benjamin GARCIA
12 Benjamin JULLIEN
13 Jason BAITIERI
14 Romain NAVARRETE
15 Thibault MARGALET
16 Maxime HEROLD
17 Remy MARGINET

18 Olivier ARNAUD
19 Mickael ROUCH
20 Nabil DJALOUT
23 Lambert BELMAS

 

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