England go into Saturday’s World Cup final as massive underdogs. After an indifferent campaign, they will look to play their best game of the tournament in the game that matters more than any.
Core three combination
Gareth Widdop has been a breath of fresh air at fullback. Jonny Lomax wasn’t doing a bad job before his injury, but Widdop has provided an extra edge in the middle. Combining with Kevin Brown and Luke Gale, he’s been a real asset in attack for the Lions.
McGillvary’s impressive form
The Huddersfield winger has been the star of the England side so far. His strength and power out wide will match anything the Aussies have to offer. He’s made more metres and line breaks than Aussie counterpart Valentine Holmes.
James Roby: 80 minute man?
With Josh Hodgson ruled out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Roby will be expected to play the full game. It’s not like he’s never done it before and has been great coming off the bench so far. He will add more structure down the middle with his runs from dummy half.
In the squad are six NRL players (Widdop, Graham, Sam Burgess, Whitehead, Tom Burgess, Heighington), they’ve played against each member of the Aussie squad or in the same teams, so they’ll have vital info on their strengths and weaknesses.
The Bennett factor
Like him or loathe him, you can’t deny that England have improved since Wayne Bennett was added. He has his own victory plans and his record speaks for itself. Whether he stays beyond the World Cup is another question though, so we should make the most of it while we have him on board.