England coach Steve McNamara has named an unchanged side for Sunday’s Four Nations match against Australia in Melbourne, but has hinted that some alterations could be made later in the week when players have a chance to shrug off injuries.
England defeated Samoa 32-26 in the tournament’s opening match at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane last Saturday and victory over Australia, who lost to New Zealand in the Brisbane double-header by 30-12, 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 hosts 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 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.”
The match will be broadcast live on BBC Two with the programme starting at 4.30am (GMT).
Four Nations highlights will be broadcast on BBC Two at 5.00pm (GMT) on Sunday November 2.
The England side to face Australia at AAMI Park, Melbourne on Sunday November 2, kick off 4.00pm (local) is as follows (professional club and community club in brackets):
1 Sam Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
2 Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
3 Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
4 Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers, Upton)
5 Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
6 Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross)
7 Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors, Blackbrook)
8 George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
9 Josh Hodgson (Hull KR, East Hull)
10 James Graham (captain) (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
11 Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
12 Joel Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
13 Joe Westerman (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
14 Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers, Fryston Warriors)
15 Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
16 Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
17 Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)