England coach Steve McNamara has named an unchanged 19-man squad for Saturday’s (England time) second match of the 2015 International Series against New Zealand at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London with Tom Burgess again set to take his place for the Wall of White (kick off 2.30pm GMT, 1:30am AEDT Sunday 8).
England defeated New Zealand 26-12 in last week’s opening international at KC Stadium, Hull, and victory on Saturday in the first-ever Rugby League match to be played at the home of the 2012 London Olympics will see the national side record their first series victory over southern hemisphere opposition since 2007 when Great Britain defeated the Kiwis three-nil.
“It's been a quick turnaround from our victory less than a week ago, and it's a pleasure to be representing our country in London in front of a near sell-out crowd,” said McNamara.
“The team have recovered and trained well all week at our St George’s Park base. There's a lot of hard work and improvement in front of us, and that had to start immediately after the game on Sunday. It's a three-match series and we find ourselves 1-0 up, which is good, but at the same time there's still a lot to be done.
“Aspects of our performance against New Zealand were good. We improved as the game wore on in certain areas. I do feel, though, that we left ourselves with too much to do at the start of the game. We need to put that right this weekend.
“We know what's at stake on Saturday. We cannot afford to get carried away. We will concentrate on the processes and ensuring our preparation is right. If we execute our plans, then we will be very hard to beat.
“For the sport it is fantastic to be playing at the Olympic Stadium. We hope to do ourselves proud again and the venue is fitting for a match like this. The game has come a long way in the last few years and to be the first Rugby League team to play at this iconic stadium is huge for us.”
England's 19-man squad to face New Zealand is as follows (professional club and community club in brackets):
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill)
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge)
Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Mike Cooper (St George Illawarra Dragons, Latchford Albion)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
James Graham (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders, East Hull)
Sean O’Loughlin, captain (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)
Elliott Whitehead (Catalans Dragons, West Bowling)
Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)