Rugby League World Cup: Steve McNamara makes three changes to England squad
Last Updated: 07/11/13 2:59pm
England head coach Steve McNamara has made three changes to his squad for Saturday's clash against Fiji, bringing back Sam Burgess, Lee Mossop and Michael McIlorum.
Burgess featured in England's opener against Australia, but a one-match ban for a high shot on Sam Thaiday meant he missed last weekend's 42-0 win over Ireland.
Mossop also played against the Kangaroos before being omitted against Ireland in Huddersfield. Wigan hooker McIlorum has yet to feature in any of England's two matches.
Burgess replaces his brother Tom in the squad while Mossop and McIlorum have been included at the expense of Gareth Widdop and James Roby respectively.
"I get the feeling the group on the verge of some really big performances and this will be one of them."
McNamara on England
McIlorum is set to start at number nine while Josh Charnley remains absent, meaning Tom Briscoe has retained his place in the squad and seems certain to start on the wing again.
Even without Charnley Wigan have five representatives set to play against Fiji with Warriors duo Mossop and McIlorum joining Liam Farrell, Sam Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin in the 19-man party.
"Mickey (McIlorum) deserves his call up," said McNamara. "He has trained tremendously hard. He is an aggressive type of player, who will command the middle of the field."
Off-field events have dominated again this week following Zak Hardadker's withdrawl from the squad, but on the training pitch McNamara has been pleased with what he has been seeing.
"We have trained well and we are ready to put in a performance," he continued.
"I get the feeling the group on the verge of some really big performances and this will be one of them.
"We are coming up against opposition we respect. We have so far seen a Fiji team that is very exciting to watch with some brilliant outside backs. They have a set of forwards that are as physical as any team in the tournament.
"I can see why people see them as a threat on Saturday. Across the make-up of their team, the vast majority of their players are regular starters in the NRL and they are used to this level intensity.
"The aim for us is about gradual progression. We are looking to improve each week as the tournament moves towards the knockout stages.
"It is important to win against teams in and around you, but at some point you have to make sure all elements that have been positive in every game come together aiming for that complete performance. We know that if we are going to win the World Cup that has to happen."
England's 19-man squad:
C Ablett (Leeds), T Briscoe (Hull), G Burgess (South Sydney), S Burgess (South Sydney), R Burrow (Leeds), R Chase (Castleford), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), L Farrell (Wigan), B Ferres (Huddersfield), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), R Hall (Leeds), C Hill (Warrington), M McIlorum (Wigan), L Mossop (Wigan), S O'Loughlin (Wigan), K Sinfield (Leeds, capt), S Tomkins (Wigan), K Watkins (Leeds), B Westwood (Warrington)