Australia v England: Four Nations Preview

by Oliver Roby.

The Scene

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne.

Kick off: Sunday, 4:00pm AUS time/5:00am GB time.

The Teams

England: Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, Kallum Watkins, Michael Shenton, Ryan Hall, Gareth Widdop, Matty Smith, George Burgess, Josh Hodgson, James Graham (captain), Liam Farrell, Joel Tomkins, Joe Westerman. Subs: Daryl Clark, Brett Ferres, Tom Burgess, Chris Hill.

Australia: Greg Inglis, Josh Mansour, Michael Jennings, Dylan Walker, Sione Mata’utia, Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk, Aaron Woods, Cameron Smith (captain), Sam Thaiday, Beau Scott, Greg Bird, Corey Parker. Subs: Boyd Cordner, Robbie Farah, Aidan Guerra, Ryan Hoffman, Ben Hunt, David Klemmer, Josh Papalii.

Match Preview

England coach Steve McNamara has named an unchanged side for Sunday’s Four Nations match against Australia at AAMI Park in Melbourne. The game could prove to be decisive for both sides with a win for England sending Australia out, while a defeat for England, should New Zealand win their game against Samoa, would effectively spell the end of their tournament.

England’s last victory over Australia was the 1995 World Cup opener at Wembley Stadium, when the hosts won 20-16, while Great Britain managed a win over the Kangaroos in 2006 in Sydney (23-12). England captain Sean O’Loughlin, who missed the opening game last week through injury, is the only member of this year’s 24-man squad to have ever tasted success against Australia and that was when he faced the Kangaroos while representing Great Britain in the 2004 and 2006 Tri-Nations tournaments.

Despite naming his 17 man squad already, McNamara has admitted that there could still be changes to the team with the likes of O’Loughlin hoping to return from injury. Meanwhile, Australia, who convincingly lost their opening game against New Zealand in the last round of fixtures, will be hoping to bounce back in style to keep their hopes of a Four Nations title alive.

Australia have named Daly Cherry-Evans at stand-off in the hope he will overcome the hip injury he sustained against the Kiwis, but coach Tim Sheens has brought in the uncapped Brisbane half back Ben Hunt onto a seven-man bench as cover. Corey Parker looks set to start at loose forward with ex-Wigan man Ryan Hoffman dropping to the bench, while Canterbury Bulldogs forward David Klemmer could make his debut after being drafted into the 20-man squad.

Prediction: This will be a close game and a moment of individual class could decide it. Australia by eight.

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