Bennett confirms Williams and Farrell will miss out

England coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed that Wigan duo George Williams and Liam Farrell are the two players from his 19-man squad who will miss out for Saturday’s Four Nations opener against New Zealand.

Williams and Farrell have both impressed for Wigan this year during their title-winning season, but they have both failed to make Bennett’s 17 for the clash against the Kiwis.

Bennett revealed it was a close call on the duo, but says he has already settled on his team.

He said: “I’ve only named a 19-man squad because that’s the rules here, I’ve already settled on a 17. George Williams will be out, as will Liam Farrell.

“I think George is a very talented player; it was pretty close but we’re going this way at the moment, so it’s up to the boys to perform now.”

That almost certainly means a half-back pairing of Luke Gale and Gareth Widdop, with Mike Cooper getting the nod ahead of Farrell.

Bennett insisted England will have to play well to beat the Kiwis, adding their forward pack is the key element they will have to close down.

He said: “It’s important to play well first and foremost.

“They’ve got a big forward pack, they’re very mobile and they’ve some quality players. We’ll have to stop them there and we give ourselves a chance if we can do that.”