Preview: England v New Zealand (second test)

International rugby league returns to Anfield this weekend for the second test between England and New Zealand.

Ardent Evertonian James Graham will lead out England in Liverpool in the absence of injured skipper Sean O’Loughlin, who has been replaced in the squad by Adam Milner.

It is another record-breaking appearance for former St Helens prop Graham, now with NRL side St George-Illawarra, who will earn his 43rd cap at the age of 33.

A win in this match will secure series victory for England following the 18-16 win in Hull last weekend, and a final test in Leeds next weekend.

The England v New Zealand rugby league betting odds have the Kiwis as slight favourites at 13/20 and England at 6/5.

Oliver Gildart marked his debut with an outstanding try that ultimately settled the match, even though his selection may have raised a few eyebrows given he wasn’t even in the initial 24-man squad for the series.

One man continually overlooked by Wayne Bennett is St Helens centre Mark Percival, who missed out to Jake Connor in the left centre role last weekend.

England continue to search for a settled half-back pairing, with Wigan’s George Williams and Catalans-bound Sam Tomkins taking the six and seven jerseys in the first test win.

With no Stefan Ratchford in the 19-man squad, Jonny Lomax looks likely to continue at full back, with Bennett declaring his preference for the Saints man to play there, despite him playing most of the Super League season in the halves to accommodate Ben Barba.

The game is must-win for New Zealand and they welcome back prop Adam Blair from a knee injury in their 19-man squad.

Blair was in the squad for the first test but was a late withdrawal.

Coach Michael Maguire said: “Adam has got through training well this week to put himself back in the frame for what is a critical match for us.

“The players are all aware of the areas we need to improve in and they’ve put in the work this week to address where we need to be better.

“It’s also going to be a special experience playing at such a great stadium like Anfield, one we’re really looking forward to.”

England 19-man squad: John Bateman, George Burgess, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Jake Connor, Oliver Gildart, James Graham, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Jermaine McGillvary, Richie Myler, Adam Milner, Mark Percival, Luke Thompson, Sam Tomkins, Elliott Whitehead, George Williams.

New Zealand 19-man squad: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (c), Leeson Ah Mau, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, James Fisher-Harris, Jahrome Hughes, Shaun Johnson, Isaac Liu, Joseph Manu, Esan Marsters, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Brandon Smith, Joseph Tapine, Martin Taupau, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

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