England face Australia in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday and there are plenty of mouth-watering clashes to get excited about.
The Three Lions face the Kangaroos in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 9am kick-off. You watch the game LIVE on BBC One from 08:30am.
WORLD CLASS FULL-BACKS
England’s Gareth Widdop and Australia’s Billy Slater are definitely in the top 10 players in the world right now, there’s no doubt about that. They both have different playing styles but they have been extremely impressive in the tournament so far.
Widdop started the World Cup in the halves but moved to full-back midway through and has been excellent. He has offered something different for the Lions while Slater is still as quick as he was at 23. We should all appreciate the No. 1’s on Saturday, whichever team you are supporting.
MCGILLVARY LOOKING TO PUT HOLMES UNDER THE HAMMER
Kangaroos star Valentine Holmes put Fiji under the hammer last week as he scored six tries in the semi-final. He scored five against Samoa in the quarter-final and is the tournament’s leading try-scorer with 12 to his name. He has a lot of pace but he faces his toughest test yet on Saturday.
He will come up against Jermaine McGillvary, who has also been one of the best players in the World Cup. He has scored seven tries but it is the work he does at the other end of the field that is most impressive. He makes an incredible amount of metres but game and defensively, he is stronger than Holmes. It’s going to be a tasty clash.
THE TWO BEST HOOKERS IN THE WORLD ON SHOW
Cameron Smith was named the 2017 Golden Boot winner earlier in the week and has had a fantastic year on the field. He led Melbourne Storm to NRL Premiership success while being part of the Queensland side who won State of Origin. He would top it off with a World Cup win at the weekend but he comes up against a fantastic number nine in James Roby.
St Helens star Roby has been a real highlight for England so far. He wasn’t even in England’s Elite Performance Squad before the tournament started but has repaid Wayne Bennett’s faith in him with some charismatic performances. Roby has been one of the best players in the Super League era and if anyone is going to get the better of Smith, it will be him.
GRAHAM AGAINST WOODS
There is, arguably, no other player in the entire tournament who has played with more passion and desire than James Graham. He epitomises everything that you would want an international player to be. He literally never, ever, gives up – no matter what the score is.
Graham comes up against Australian Aaron Woods in a highly-anticipated clash. Woods has, effectively, took Graham’s place at Canterbury Bulldogs next year, with Graham having already moved on to St George Illawarra Dragons. According to the Australian press, there is a bit of bad blood between the pair so what better game to watch them go hell for leather than in a World Cup final…
ENGLAND’S SECRET WEAPON
The Lions suffered a huge blow earlier today when they found out that Sean O’Loughlin was ruled out of the final through injury. They have shifted Sam Burgess to loose forward, with Ben Currie coming into the starting side in the back-row. Jonny Lomax replaces O’Loughlin in the 17-man squad, with the full-back or half-back starting on the interchange bench.
Lomax could just prove to be England’s secret weapon in the final. He played against the Kangaroos in the opening fixture but hasn’t played since Round 2, after he suffered an injury for a couple of weeks.
The St Helens ace could make a huge impact off the bench and inject a lot of energy when everyone else is tired. There are a couple of scenarios England could go into as well, like putting Lomax at full-back and Widdop into the halves or putting Lomax into the halves in place of Kevin Brown or Luke Gale to mix things up. He could just well prove to be a game changer.
What else are you looking forward to in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final? Let us know in the comments below.