England boss on McMeeken concern, Captain’s Challenge & Samoa selection

Mike McMeeken England SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

England forward Mike McMeeken is still being monitored by the medical staff after leaving Friday’s game against Fiji with a moon boot on his leg.

Shaun Wane’s side get their World Cup campaign underway against star-studded Samoa on Saturday.

England enjoyed an impressive 50-0 victory over Fiji in Salford last Friday. However, it came at a cost, with back-rower McMeeken picking up an injury.

“Mike McMeeken trained today,” Wane said. “Hopefully he’ll train tomorrow and, if he does, he’s a chance of being in (against Samoa).”

18th man

Wane will also choose an 18th man, another NRL regulation which permits teams to bring a reserve in case they lose three players with head knocks.

Wane says he will tell his players his line-up on Wednesday. But he is only obliged to name a 19-man squad 48 hours before the game.

He told the news conference he knows both his half-back pairing and his wing picks. Wane must choose between Ryan Hall, Tommy Makinson and the uncapped Dom Young for the two wing spots and admits his selection will have an element of horses-for-courses as he prepares to take on the physical Samoans.

“I need to consider that as well,” he said. “That does change slightly, no question.

“At the end of day, we have to win so I’ll pick the team that’s going to do that for us.

“I’m more or less settled with my 17. I’ll have discussions with the players later and then name it in the morning.

“There are just a couple of slight niggles which I need to sort out with the medical staff, nothing major.”

England tips for Captain’s Challenge

Wane has drawn up a tip list for the Captain’s Challenge. Super League players will experience the rule for the first time in the World Cup.

If teams are unhappy with a referee’s decision, they will be allowed to make one challenge per game, which they will retain if successful.

The rule has been in operation for the last three seasons in the NRL. Wane is keen to ensure that his players are not put at a disadvantage when they face Samoa in the opening World Cup game.

“I’ve shown the players some detail and printed out the areas where we can challenge and where we can’t,” Wane said.

“Elliott (Whitehead) is used to it but the English lads are not.

“We’ve had a good discussion. We want to make sure nothing goes wrong going into this game, regarding the play-the-ball as well, because in Australia you have to attempt to touch the ball with your foot.

“We have to make sure that we’re switched on and doing the right thing. So we don’t want a shock on Saturday and get penalised for anything.”

Whitehead, who has spent the last seven seasons with Canberra Raiders and led them this season, said of the Captain’s Challenge: “I think it’s good but I lose more than I win.

“If you get the opportunity to get a decision right it’s always helpful for your team.

“Most of the time, I get it wrong because I listen to too many props. We’ve made a rule this morning that no props can challenge.”

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