Ellis expected to be fit
England second rower should feature in Four Nations final
Last Updated: 14/11/11 4:46pm
Gareth Ellis: Should be fit to play in Four Nations final against Australia
England second rower Gareth Ellis is expected to be fit for the Gillette Four Nations final against Australia at Elland Road on Saturday.
The Wests Tigers player was forced to sit out England's 28-6 win against New Zealand over the weekend after failing to recover from a back injury sustained in the 36-20 defeat by the Kangaroos during the group stage.
Warrington prop Garreth Carvell was drafted in as the first change in four matches but coach Steve McNamara says Ellis is close to fitness and, with no fresh injuries, he expects to be able to pick from a full-strength squad for the showdown.
"Gareth was very close to being fit and I would be surprised if he wasn't available this week," McNamara said.
Australia coach Tim Sheens is Ellis' club boss at the Tigers and knows how important the experienced forward will be to England.
He said: "I think they missed him when they lost him against us. He was having a strong game. He's a quality player and you want to have all your people available if you can."
Sheens' squad is down to 21 following the loss through injury of full-back Billy Slater and centre Willie Tonga and the return to Australia of hooker Robbie Farah for personal reasons.
Captain Darren Lockyer will return for his 59th and final appearance after resting a shoulder injury in the victory over Wales on Sunday while forward Tony Williams is available after completing a one-match ban.
Sheens expects second rower Luke Lewis to recover from the sickness that forced him to withdraw from the game in Wrexham but he has yet name a replacement winger following Darius Boyd's switch to full-back.
Meanwhile, the Kangaroos are pushing for Australian Matt Cecchin to referee the game ahead of Englishman Phil Bentham and New Zealand's Henry Perenara.
Officials agreed a policy in advance of having neutral referees throughout the group stages and picking the best man for the final.
New Zealander Leon Williamson was in charge of the 2009 final between England and Australia but Perenara may not be chosen after being at the centre of controversy during this year's clash between the same two sides at Wembley.
Representatives of both camps will sit down to thrash out the appointments and in the past it has come down to the toss of a coin, but McNamara is steering clear of the debate.
"It's not my concern. I'll leave it up to the authorities," he said.
Sheens, who was critical of Bentham following his side's 26-12 win over the Kiwis in Warrington, added: "The process is that the best referee will get it.
"Last year against New Zealand we had (Australian) Tony Archer do the final. I think whoever is in the best form should get it, that's as good a way of selecting it as any."