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World Cup preview: England

7464293Squad

ENGLAND: Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos), Tom Briscoe (Hull FC), George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos), Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors), Rangi Chase (Salford Red Devils), Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), James Graham (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos), Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos), Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves), Gareth Hock (Salford Red Devils), Michael McIllorum (Wigan Warriors), Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors), James Roby (St Helens), Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos), Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors), Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos), Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves), Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm)

Head coach: Steve McNamara

Fixtures

26.10.2013 vs Australia (Cardiff)
02.11.2013 vs Ireland (Huddersfield)
09.11.2013 vs Fiji (Hull)

Key Players

Sam Tomkins – Tomkins is arguably the most exciting player to emerge from Super League in recent history and is sure to play a key role in England’s World Cup campaign. His form dipped towards the end of this season, but his natural talent should be enough to see him light up the competition. The 24-year-old full back has the ability to change a game in an instant, and will be vital if England are to succeed on home turf.

Sam Burgess – The second oldest of the four Burgess brothers and one of three who have made the World Cup squad, Sam is one of the best forwards in world rugby, but has not made and appearance for England in the last three years due to commitments in the NRL. However, he will be influential in providing a solid platform for the England attack, while his experience of the NRL-based players will be vital to the England cause.

Ryan Hall – The Leeds Rhinos winger has not had the best of seasons by his own high standards, but the 25-year-old hit form towards the end of last term, scoring a number of vital tries. While Hall’s finishing abilities are clearly a key part of England’s attack, his ability to take the ball up and give forwards an opportunity to rest cannot be underestimated and will be important when tight games in the knockout stages reach their climax.

Preview

Despite England’s shock defeat to Italy in their only warm-up game, I feel this is England’s best chance of winning the World Cup since their last success in 1975. Some of the best players in the world, such as Tomkins and Sam Burgess, feature in the squad, while there is good strength in depth within this squad – a vital part of any successful side, and something England’s 2008 World Cup squad was lacking. If all key players can perform t the peak of their abilities and coach Steve McNamara can find a half-back partnership that can rival that of Australia and New Zealand, then England could win the Rugby League World Cup.

Prediction

England will reach the semi-final, but reaching the final will be the biggest challenge to overcome. If England can make it to the final, this squad has every chance of winning the title in front of what is set to be a sell out crowd in the Old Trafford finale.

20. Sports Journalism student at UCLan | Morecambe FC programme contributor | Dewsbury Rams media team | Leeds Rhinos fan.

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