England will enter their first World Cup Final in 22 years without captain Sean O’Loughlin.
O’Loughlin, a talismanic leader of Wayne Bennett’s side, has suffered a quad injury and will be unavailable for the showpiece event against Australia on Saturday.
It means Sam Burgess will captain England and make the move into loose forward against Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos, while Ben Currie will start at second-row.
Jonny Lomax will take the vacant place in the 17-man squad for the clash at Brisbane Stadium.
It comes as cruel blow to England’s hopes, with O’Loughlin an ever-present throughout England’s World Cup campaign. The 35-year-old has made 32 appearances for Wigan and England this year and has only been on the losing side six times for club and country during 2017.
“You’re always going to run into some kind of obstacle,” assistant coach Denis Betts said.
“We’d given him every chance. He’s worked really, really hard with our medical team and pushed himself as hard as he could. But the final call comes down to Lockers as well. He knows his body and if he’s ready to play in this kind of game. He’s made a real brave call and he’s decided not to be in the team.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, World Cup finals don’t come round very often and it was a real tough decision for Sean.”