Talking points from the England team selected to play Samoa

Square pegs in round holes?

If Zak Hardaker hasn’t been Super League’s best full-back this year, he must be in the top two or three. Which makes the decision to slot him in at centre for Saturday’s game a somewhat baffling one. Especially when you consider Hardaker is there at the expense of Mark Percival: a centre who would have been a good fit for this current England side. As we’ve seen so often in the past, is this square pegs going in round holes?

Is there enough guile from the bench?

England’s bench of Chris Hill, Chris Heighington, Chris McQueen and Tom Burgess is BIG. There’s no getting away from that – but in this modern era of clubs putting a hooker, or even a half-back, on the bench, is it perhaps too big? It may well be with the opposition directly in mind, who are a physical side, but if the Kevin Brown-Luke Gale experiment fails, is there a suitable reshuffle available at Bennett’s disposal?

How unfortunate are the St Helens duo to miss out?

It’s not been a great 2017 for St Helens thus far, but they have had a couple of shining lights in Mark Percival and Alex Walmsley – but both miss out from Wayne Bennett’s 17 on Saturday. That, on the face of it, seems strange; flying players 12,000 miles around the world only to twiddle their thumbs. Sure, someone had to miss out – but Percival and Walmsley seemed sure things before Bennett named his 17.

What next if England lose on Saturday?

It’s only a friendly, yes, but it’s England’s only competitive action before the World Cup gets underway. Win, and it will seem like a good step on the road to the tournament. Lose, and there may well be questions asked of Wayne Bennett. The England decision to take this game on – a tougher test than say, a mid-season game in this country against France – will only look like a good or bad decision come Saturday night.