England coach Wayne Bennett has selected his 19-man squad for their first game of the Four Nations against New Zealand at a sold out John Smith’s Stadium. The game will be televised on Sunday at 12:30am (AEDT)
Bennett has made five changes to the squad that was named for the game against France last Saturday in Avignon. Sam Burgess returns as England captain and makes his first appearance since the Rugby League World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at Wembley Stadium in 2013.
Joining Burgess in the squad is also Dan Sarginson, who last played for England in the 2014 Four Nations against the Kiwis, Chris Hill, John Bateman and George Williams.
England’s last victory over New Zealand was last year in the 2015 International Series win which ended in a 20-14 third Test victory at DW Stadium – Elliott Whitehead claimed two tries and Gareth Widdop scored eight points from the boot that day.
On the squad, Bennett said:
"I was pleased with the way the players conducted themselves last week in France and the hard work they put in.
“There’s things we’ve looked at in the game and worked on this week. The boys know the pressure and the intensity will rise as we get closer to Saturday – it’s a challenge we’re all looking forward to.
“We’ve got a strong squad here who are ready to go and desperate to play to show us what they can do which is good to see.
“Sam’s also back from suspension and ready to pull on the England Rugby League shirt. It’s been a few years since he played over here and I’m sure the sell-out crowd at Huddersfield will be keen to see him out there.”
On New Zealand, Bennett added:
"They’re a talented Rugby League nation who know how to play the game and use the ball.
“Playing in intense games like these is something they are used to and is something we need to match and work hard if we want to get the result.
“David Kidwell is a good coach and will have his players ready for Saturday. We will be fully focused on preparing ourselves well and doing the best we can.”
England 19-man squad (professional club and community club in brackets):
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill)
George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves, Fryston Warriors)
Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves/St George-Illwarra Dragons, Latchford Albion)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers, Middleton Marauders)
James Graham (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders, East Hull)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James)
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors)
Dan Sarginson (Wigan Warriors / Gold Coast Titans, Hemel Stags)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders, West Bowling)
Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)