By John Davidson, Date: 3/11/18
England captain Sean O’Loughlin will miss the second Test against New Zealand in Liverpool with a calf injury and has been replaced by Adam Milner.
O’Loughlin was forced off early in the first Test at Hull last Saturday and be out for the rest of the series. Castleford forward Milner, who made his Test debut last month against France, is expected to join the English bench with Luke Thompson to start at lock.
Prop James Graham will captain the host nation in O’Loughlin’s absence. That is the only change to the side that downed the Kiwis at the KCOM Stadium, with Richie Myler and Mark Percival expected to again drop out of the squad on matchday.
England coach Wayne Bennett said picking Graham, who has captained his country before, was a simple decision.
“With Sam not here, James was a pretty straightforward choice,” Bennett said
“There’s not many more passionate Englishmen. Lockers has been one of the top-line players in your country so he’s a loss, but we’ve got to manage without him and we will.
“He’ll be touch-and-go for the series. It’s not a serious one, but the calf injuries hang around with you at this stage of your career and your life. We lost him in the final last year in Australia and we did OK enough there.”
Former New Zealand captain Adam Blair has returned to the Kiwis’ 19-man squad for Sunday.
Blair missed out on the first Test with a knee complaint.
New Zealand coach Michael Maguire has stuck with the same 19-man squad for the second clash.
“Adam has got through training well this week to put himself back in the frame for what is a critical match for us,” Maguire said.
“The players are all aware of the areas we need to improve in and they’ve put in the work this week to address where we need to be better.
“It’s also going to be a special experience playing at such a great stadium like Anfield, one we’re really looking forward to.”
New Zealand squad:
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Penrith Panthers) captain
LEESON AH MAU (St George Illawarra Dragons)
ADAM BLAIR (Vodafone Warriors)
JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
KENNY BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)
JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm)
SHAUN JOHNSON (Vodafone Warriors)
ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters)
JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters)
ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers)
KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)
KODI NIKORIMA (Brisbane Broncos)
KEVIN PROCTOR (Gold Coast Titans)
JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders)
BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm)
JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters)
James Graham (c)