England face New Zealand at Anfield knowing that a win on Merseyside would see them win the series with a test to spare.
James Graham will wear the captain’s armband for England in the second Test against New Zealand at Anfield on Sunday.
The news comes after Sean O’Loughlin was ruled out by injury.
The Wigan loose forward, 35, suffered a recurrence of a calf injury in the first half of Saturday’s stunning 18-16 victory.
O’Loughlin’s place in the 19-man squad is taken by Castleford’s Adam Milner.
Scouser Graham, 33, is already England’s most-capped player and will extend his appearances record to 43 in the showdown on Merseyside.
Sydney-based Sam Burgess, who led England to the World Cup final in O’Loughlin’s absence, is missing from the series due to injury and Graham subsequently stepped forward as skipper for the international against France a fortnight ago.
England 19-man squad: John Bateman, George Burgess, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Jake Connor, Oliver Gildart, James Graham, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Jermaine McGillvary, Richie Myler, Adam Milner, Mark Percival, Luke Thompson, Sam Tomkins, Elliott Whitehead, George Williams.
Should England beat the New Zealand on Sunday, it would be only the second time that the Kiwis have lost to a British squad in three consecutive matches. The visiting side lost all three tour matches against Great Britain in only the second time the series was held, back in 2007.
New Zealand, however, beat World Champions Australia last month and are arguably a more formidable animal when wounded.
With more or less the same starting line-up expected, the Kiwis will expect star man Shaun Johnson to take centre stage and take the series to a decisive third and final test. Alongside Esan Marsters and Jordan Rapana, Johnson caused the England defence no end of trouble at Hull’s KCOM Stadium last weekend and the NRL superstar will no doubt be in top form again.
Interestingly, the New Zealand Rugby League has announced that there will be no test between the two countries in Denver next summer, opting to schedule a meeting with Tonga instead. This is expected, by many, to be due to the matter of not receiving a match payment from the fixture in the USA back in June.
New Zealand 19-man squad: (from) Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (captain), Leeson Ah Mau, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, James Fisher-Harris, Jahrome Hughes, Shaun Johnson, Isaac Liu, Joseph Manu, Esan Masters, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Brandon Smith, Joseph Tapine, Martin Taupau, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
England have a good record against New Zealand on home soil, winning four and losing once since 2015. Saturday’s 18-16 triumph enhanced their reputation even further, but the Kiwis know how to score, and score fast.
Just as last week’s first test was tight, New Zealand won an even closer game 17-16 in Huddersfield two years ago and the Kiwis will have to go some to stop England taking the series on Sunday afternoon.
KEY BATTLE – Sam Tomkins vs Shaun Johnson
Tomkins’ early try in the opening exchanges of last Saturday’s slug match set England on their way, putting New Zealand on the back foot almost immediately. With pace and trickery in abundance, Tomkins is one of the few English defenders who didn’t make a mistake in the first test and more of the same from the full-back will be needed if England are to close out the series with a test to spare.
Johnson’s vision and kicking meant that England had to produce something spectacular to beat the Kiwis in the first test and the New Zealand Warriors halfback will have to emulate Oliver Gildart to inspire his country to victory on Sunday afternoon; something that he is more than capable of doing.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, 4th November
Referee: Gerard Sutton (AUS)
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