Wayne Bennett, the England head coach, has made a number of changes for Sunday’s final group game against France in order to make sure all 24 members of the squad have some playing time.
England need a point from the game to ensure a place in the knockout stages but Bennet feels that he is able to rest players ahead of a likely quarterfinal against Papua New Guinea.
As a result, he has brought in St Helens centre Mark Percival, Warrington standoff Kevin Brown and Castleford second-rower Mike McMeeken. The three will be making their first appearances in the World Cup while Hull FC prop Scott Taylor will be on the bench.
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Bennett is resting Leeds three-quarters Ryan Hall together with Hallum Wakings and Canberra back-rower Elliott Whitehead. Cronulla’s forward Chris Heighington is also being rested.
Alex Walmsley, the St Helens prop who make his England Test debut in the 29-10 win over Lebanon, will keep his place on the bench and his club-mate James Roby has been recalled to replace Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson.
Gareth Widdop has been moved from standoff to fullback in the absence of Jonny Lomax and Stefan Ratchford has been moved to the left wing.
Bennet has also named Huddersfield winger Jermaine McGillvary in the side in the hope that he will be found innocent of biting in his disciplinary hearing later today.
Speaking earlier this week Bennet said, “I was pleased with the win against Lebanon but I’m looking for a better performance this week. We lost our way in the second half in the last game and that’s something we’ll be looking to improve on. We know what we’re capable of so we’ll be aiming to put things right by Sunday.”