England Knights coach Kieron Purtill is confident that his young charges will rise to the challenge when they face Samoa at Salford City Stadium on Saturday (2.00pm).
The Knights go into the match from an intensive training camp at Loughborough University and boosted by the presence of senior England squad members Zak Hardaker, the Leeds Rhinos full-back, and South Sydney prop Tom Burgess.
“We’ve had a great period of preparation and the boys are really fired up for this game,” said Purtill.
“It’s been quite a challenge for us this year: we have had our biggest turnaround in terms of new faces and the squad has come together really quickly.
“The players have worked really hard and the level of commitment has never been higher: I’m sure they will do a great job on Saturday.
“The physical challenge is going to be massive for us because Samoa are a big team and technically we know we will have to be at our best against opponents who are preparing for the World Cup.
“We know what we have to do and are not short of confidence: the players know they are in the Knights squad because of their talent, skill and ability and that that is part of their career pathway.
“Rugby League is a tough game and injuries are a fact of life. The Knights players are the back-up for England’s World Cup squad and the game is a chance for them to show they are ready to step in should they be needed.”
The Knights made one change to their squad this week with the late withdrawal of Hull FC prop Liam Watts with a shoulder injury. Watts is replaced by club-mate Josh Bowden, who starts on the bench.
The England Knights team to face Samoa at Salford City Stadium on Saturday October 19 2013, kick off 2.00pm is as follows (professional club and community club in brackets):
1 Tommy Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes)
2 Iain Thornley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
3 Josh Jones (St Helens, Blackbrook)
4 Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
5 Ben Cockayne (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Normanton Knights)
6 Daniel Sarginson (London Broncos, Hemel Stags)
7 Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
8 Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
9 Josh Hodgson (Hull KR, East Hull)
10 Scott Taylor (Wigan Warriors, Skirlaugh)
11 Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
12 Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons, West Bowling)
13 Dominic Crosby (Wigan Warriors, Wigan & Leigh College)
14 Chris Green (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
15 Jack Hughes (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Judes)
16 Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
17 Kieran Dixon (London Broncos, Hemel Stags)
18 Brad Singleton (Leeds Rhinos, Barrow Island)
19 Josh Bowden (Hull FC, Hull Wyke)
20 Logan Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
In partnership with Salford-based social landlord City West Housing Trust, children aged 16 and under accompanied by an adult can attend England v Italy (4.30pm) and England Knights v Samoa (2.00pm) for free on Saturday October 19 at Salford City Stadium.