England coach Shaun Wane will make up to five changes for Saturday’s first-ever
meeting with Greece in the World Cup Group A clash at Bramall Lane (2.30pm ko); George Williams takes over from the rested Sam Tomkins as captain
Last Updated: 27/10/22 1:03pm
George Williams has been named England captain for Saturday’s final group fixture against Greece, with head coach Shaun Wane resting several key players ahead of the Rugby League World Cup knockout stages.
Williams, who captained England for the first time in their World Cup warm-up victory over Fiji earlier this month, will take the armband from Sam Tomkins for the historic match in Sheffield.
Tomkins is among the five players left out after England booked their place in the quarter-finals after following a 60-6 win over Samoa with a 42-18 victory over France, with Catalans team-mate Michael McIlorum also rested.
“Sam is going to get a break this week,” Wane said. “He’s a few things he’s got to sort out with his body and he’ll hopefully be flying for the quarter-finals.”
Herbie Farnworth and Elliot Whitehead also sit on the sidelines, while centre Kallum Watkins – who left the field with a head injury during the victory over France – is missing but is expected to be fit for the quarter-finals.
Hull KR winger Ryan Hall – who scored two early tries in Saturday’s win – is expected to make his 40th England appearance, with the match the first-ever international against Greece and the first rugby league international played at Bramall Lane.
Joe Batchelor and Kai Pearce-Paul, the only two members of England’s 24-man squad who have yet to play in the World Cup campaign, are included in the 19-man squad and are expected to feature.
The St Helens trio of Tom Makinson, Morgan Knowles and Matty Lees all return after sitting out the France game, along with Mike McMeeken (Catalans) and Mike Cooper (Wigan).
England 19-man squad: G Williams (Warrington, capt), T Makinson (St Helens), R Hall (Hull KR), J Welsby (St Helens), T Burgess (South Sydney), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), J Bateman (Wigan), V Radley (Sydney Roosters), D Young (Newcastle), M Knowles (St Helens), M Lees (St Helens), M Cooper (Wigan), C Hill (Huddersfield), A Ackers (Salford), M McMeeken (Catalans), M Sneyd (Salford), J Batchelor (St Helens), M Oledzki (Leeds), K Pearce-Paul (Wigan).
Big win expected for England in Sheffield
England are expected to rack up the points against the Greeks, who lost 72-4 to Samoa in their last match, but Wane is determined not to take them lightly.
“Greece have leaked some points but we’re still going to be really respectful,” he said. “If you switch off, they will offload on play two, chip on play three, it’s anything goes with them. They’ve got a great kicking game.
“We had a really tough week before the French game, this week we’ve laid off the players a bit, they’ve had less metres on their legs, so the players will be very fresh this week.
“I want them to go out and express themselves – that’s been the message from day one. They’re good players, I give them a rough game plan, but I want them to play and don’t feel anchored down by a game plan.”