England announce World Cup final squad

(Image credit - englandrl.co.uk)

England head coach Wayne Bennett has brought Chris Heighington into the side to replace the injured Josh Hodgson for the Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday.

England take on Australia in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday 2 December at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 9am kick-off.

Sean O’Loughlin will captain the Three Lions in their first World Cup final in 22 years when they fell short to the Kangaroos at Wembley Stadium back in 1995.

Canberra Raiders star Hodgson has been ruled out of the final with a knee ligament injury so James Roby moves into the starting hooker role and is expected to play the full 80 minutes, with prop Chris Heighington returning to the bench.

Tom Burgess is set to make his 20th Test appearance on Saturday and will receive a bronze lion on his playing jersey to mark the achievement.

England’s most capped player, James Graham, will play his 39th international game this weekend. He has featured in the previous three World Cups for the Three Lions.

And Bennett said the Kangaroos are the favourites to win it.

He said: “We’ve got a special group of men here who have worked hard for another and have been rewarded with a place in the final.

“Our efforts in defence against Tonga showed me how much they wanted to be here in this final week. The desire and commitment was clear to see.

“Australia are unbeaten in this tournament and it’s no secret that they are going into this game as favourites. They’re playing some good football at the moment.

“Preparation in Brisbane is going well for us – a mixture of training and recovery will ensure the squad are ready to do their best for the team, their family, their friends and the fans on Saturday.”

England’s 21-man squad to play Australia: 1. Gareth Widdop, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. John Bateman, 5. Ryan Hall, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Chris Hill, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 11. Sam Burgess, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Sean O’Loughlin (C).

Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Tom Burgess, 16. Ben Currie, 17. Chris Heighington.

Reserves: 18. Jonny Lomax, 19. Scott Taylor, 20. George Williams, 21. Mark Percival.

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