World Cup Preview: England v Ireland

England and Ireland will be searching for their first win of the World Cup when they meet at a sold-out John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

It’s the second World Cup meeting between the two nations – England came out 26-16 winners in the 2000 tournament, with the Irish team that day containing several familiar names, including Steve Prescott, Brian Carney, Terry O’Connor and Barrie McDermott.

There are no survivors from that game, although Paul Wellens is helping out on the England coaching staff at this tournament.

England welcome back James Graham and Sean O’Loughlin, while Tom Briscoe also comes in for Josh Charnley.

Ireland are without full-back Scott Grix, who suffered a dead leg in the defeat to Fiji at Rochdale on Monday night.

Mark Aston’s men have more NRL players (5) in their squad than England (4), and will be looking for props Brett White and James Hasson to follow up their tough performances in the defeat to Fiji.

England back-rower or centre Carl Ablett said: “Pat Richards is a massive threat, but they have got a lot of experience in there, and a few Aussies who have played in the NRL.

“We will concentrate more on our own game, though. We are not spending too much time watching the IrelandFiji match, instead we are reviewing our own performance, and seeing what we can do better.

“We have realised what mentality we need, and that we have got no right to win any game. We have taken the Australia game on the chin and we will look to build on what we did well.”

Verdict: England surely won’t slip up in this one – England win.

England Squad: Carl Ablett (Leeds), Tom Briscoe (Hull), George Burgess (Souths), Tom Burgess (Souths), Rob Burrow (Leeds), Rangi Chase (Castleford), Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield), Liam Farrell (Wigan), Brett Ferres (Huddersfield), James Graham (Canterbury), Ryan Hall (Leeds), Chris Hill (Warrington), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan), James Roby (St Helens), Kevin Sinfield (Leeds), Sam Tomkins (Wigan), Kallum Watkins (Leeds), Ben Westwood (Warrington), Gareth Widdop (Melbourne).

Ireland Squad: Dave Allen (Widnes), Luke Ambler (Halifax), Bob Beswick (Leigh), Damien Blanch (Catalan), Danny Bridge (Warrington), Ben Currie (Warrington), Liam Finn (Featherstone), Simon Finnigan (Leigh), Kurt Haggerty (Barrow), James Hasson (Manly), Rory Kostjasyn (North Queensland), Stuart Littler (Leigh), Tyrone McCarthy (Warrington), James Mendeika (Warrington), Anthony Mullally (Huddersfield), Apirana Pewhairangi (Parramatta), Pat Richards (Wigan), Joshua Toole (St George), Brett White (Canberra)

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