PREVIEW: Australia v England

Ryan Hall will start on the wing for England on Friday

Australia will be hoping for a good start to defending their crown but England will also be going hell for leather as they attempt to win the World Cup for the first time ever.

The last time England beat Australia was back in 2006, when the team was classed as Great Britain.

There will be no motivation needed for England though, having been knocked out of the 2016 Four Nations by Australia as well as losing in the semi-finals of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup semi-final to New Zealand, in the dying seconds due to a magic step from Shaun Johnson.

Kangaroos boss Mal Meninga and Three Lions coach Wayne Bennett have named very, very impressive squads for the tournament this year and it will probably the only headaches that the pair will welcome due to whittling them squads down to 17-men on gamedays.

And both Dally M Medal winner Cameron Smith and Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Luke Gale will be on show for Australia and England respectively on Friday morning.

The Kangaroos have beat Fiji and Papua New Guinea in warm-up games while the Three Lions thrashed a Central Affiliated States side 74-12 in their only warm-up match last week.

England have, arguably, got the strongest pack in the competition but they have got plenty of strength in depth in those positions as well.

Bennett has named Chris Hill, James Graham, Elliott Whitehead, Sam Burgess and Sean O’Loughlin as his starting pack tomorrow, with Alex Wamsley, Tom Burgess and Chris Heighington on the bench which is very, very good.

And it says something when Mike McMeeken, Ben Currie and Scott Taylor miss out.

But Australia’s backline is, arguably, the best in the competition with the likes of Billy Slater, Josh Dugan and Valentine Holmes included while Dane Gagai is set to make his debut on the wing.

The clash will certainly be in the halves and sometimes, you have just got to admire the talent on show.

England have Dally M Half-Back of the Year Gareth Widdop and Man of Steel winner Gale at six and seven while Australia have Michael Morgan and Cooper Cronk at their disposal.

Australia captain Cameron Smith and England skipper Sean O’Loughlin have showed a lot of respect to each other in the build-up and hopefully we can witness a classy and entertaining display on Friday.

You can watch the game on BBC at 10am (BST) on Friday 27 October.

Where will the game be won and lost? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.

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