Saints duo left out of England’s Test squad with Samoa

Mark Percival and Alex Walmsley have both been left out of England’s matchday squad to face Samoa.

The Saints duo have been cut from the squad for the Test match, with Hull FC’s Scott Taylor also missing out.

It means that the Australian duo of Chris McQueen and Chris Heighington will both feature on Saturday, albeit from the bench, while Sam Burgess and James Graham will start in the front-row.

Percival’s exclusion is arguably the most surprising, with the centre left out in place of Stefan Ratchford, who will operate at fullback. It means Zak Hardaker, the Castleford fullback, will play at centre, partnering former Leeds Rhinos teammate Ryan Hall.

England head coach Wayne Bennett said: “Samoa are a very good team – there’s a lot of top NRL players in their squad,” said Bennett.

“It’s not going to be easy for us; we weren’t looking for an easy game but we need to prove ourselves on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m sure they are too because I know they’ve got a hard game in front of them.

“It’s been a really invaluable experience for all and essential to have all players here to prepare for what’s to come at the end of the year. It’s vital that the group spend time together and that I spend time with all the players during World Cup year. Some tough decisions were made when picking this team but this eight-day camp has been fantastic – the commitment shown has been second to none.

“Being over here bridges the gap between not playing for long periods as a national team and gives us an opportunity to sort out little issues which will enable us to hit the ground running in October.”

England team to face Samoa: Ratchford, McGillvary, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, Brown, Gale, S Burgess, Hodgson, Graham, McMeeken Whitehead, O’Loughlin (C). Subs: Hill, Heighington, McQueen, T Burgess