28th November 2017, 08:17 | englandrl
England Head Coach Wayne Bennett has selected his 21-man squad to face Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday, December 2 (7.00pm AEST) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Lead by captain Sean O’Loughlin, the national side will play in their first World Cup final in 22 years after last featuring in 1995 when England took on the Kangaroos at Wembley Stadium.
In the absence of Josh Hodgson, who was ruled out of the final with a knee injury, James Roby moves into the starting hooker role and Chris Heighington returns to the bench after last playing against Lebanon in the group stage.
After making a big impact from interchange against Tonga, Thomas Burgess has retained his place in the squad and is set to make his 20th Test appearance for England on Saturday night. Burgess will receive a bronze lion on his playing jersey to mark this achievement.
England’s most capped player, James Graham, will take his total up to 39 at the weekend as the prop forward appears in his first World Cup final for his country. Graham made his England debut back in 2008 and has featured in three World Cup tournaments (2008, 2013 and 2017) for the national side.
Head Coach, Wayne Bennett, said: “We’ve got a special group of men here who have worked hard for another and have been rewarded with a place in the final.
“Our efforts in defence against Tonga showed me how much they wanted to be here in this final week. The desire and commitment was clear to see.
“Australia are unbeaten in this tournament and it’s no secret that they are going into this game as favourites. They’re playing some good football at the moment.
“Preparation in Brisbane is going well for us – a mixture of training and recovery will ensure the squad are ready to do their best for the team, their family, their friends and the fans on Saturday.”
England 21-man squad to play Australia: