England coach Steve McNamara has named an unchanged side for Sunday’s Four Nations match against Australia at Melbourne’s AAMI Park (4.00pm kick-off local time; 6.00pm NZT).
England defeated Toa Samoa 32-26 in the tournament’s opening match at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane last Saturday and victory over Australia, which lost 12-30 to New Zealand in the Brisbane double-header, will see England progress through to the Four Nations final in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, November 15.
England’s last victory against Australia was the 1995 World Cup opener at Wembley Stadium, when the host won by 20-16.
Great Britain managed a win over the Kangaroos in 2006 in Sydney (23-12). England captain Sean O’Loughlin, who missed the opening game last week with a problem with his quadriceps, is the only member of the 24-man squad to have ever tasted success against Australia with Great Britain in the 2004 and 2006 Tri-Nations tournaments.
“We have named the same 17 as last week,” said England coach McNamara.
“A few of our blokes haven’t been able to train fully during the early part of the week.
“Even though we have named the same side, there could be a change or two at the back end of the week.
“Those that were unable to train are making decent progress. Sean O’Loughlin is definitely improving and we will continue to monitor him throughout this week.
“It is really difficult to name a team earlier in the week. Firmer decision will be made towards the weekend, when we arrive in Melbourne.
“It was a hard-fought win for us against Samoa. There is room for improvement within our game. We had to overcome a very talented and tenacious team with limited preparation in extreme heat.
“I was pleased with the way we dug in and found a way to win in extreme circumstances. We will have to show that same resolve this week.”
ENGLAND | 1 Sam Tomkins; 2 Josh Charnley, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 Michael Shenton, 5 Ryan Hall; 6 Gareth Widdop, 7 Matty Smith; 8 George Burgess, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 James Graham (c), 11 Liam Farrell, 12 Joel Tomkins; 13 Joe Westerman. Interchange: 14 Daryl Clark, 15 Brett Ferres, 16 Tom Burgess, 17 Chris Hill.