England will face Fiji on Friday evening in the final match ahead of the Rugby League World Cup, which gets underway on Saturday 15 October at St James’ Park in Newcastle against Samoa with kick-off at 2:30PM. Here is a closer look at tomorrow’s match against Fiji.
Both sides will be looking to head into the World Cup off the back of a victory as the two sides meet at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, with kick-off at 7:30PM.
Shaun Wane’s side will be playing their second match this year after the mid-season international victory over the Combined National All-Stars. England will be boosted by having the NRL based players available which include Elliott Whitehead, Tom Burgess and Luke Thompson who have previous represented the national side. Meanwhile, Dom Young, Herbie Farnworth and Victor Radley all could make their first appearances for England.
Six players who were named in the 24-player squad for the World Cup miss out. England captain, Sam Tomkins, has not been included in the side. George Williams will captain the side in Tomkins absence.
John Bateman will miss the clash due to serving the second game of his three-match suspension. The other four players who will not be involved all featured in the Super League Grand Final. St Helens’ Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees and Tommy Makinson all will not feature against Fiji, as well as Leeds Rhinos prop Mikolaj Oledzki.
Friday’s meeting will be the fourth between the two sides and the first since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. England came out on top that evening, with Ryan Hall scoring a brace during the 34-12 success. Kallum Watkins, Chris Hill and Michael McIlorum all featured in that match nearly nine years ago and have all been named in the 22-player squad by Shaun Wane.
Three further players could make their debuts. Salford duo Andy Ackers and Marc Sneyd are yet to make an England appearance, meanwhile, Wigan second rower, Kai Pearce-Paul has been named in the squad for Fiji.
Due to six players missing out, England boss Wane has named four additional players to the squad. Wigan’s Harry Smith, Sam Powell and Liam Marshall have been added along with Jake Wardle, who scored on his England debut against the Combined Nations earlier in the season.
Fiji will be searching for their first victory against England when the sides meet. The Pacific Island side have lost each of the three previous meetings, however they will be looking to set the record straight on Friday.
Some of the players named by the visitors will be familiar to Super League fans. Current Salford forward, King Vuniyayawa has been named in the squad Joe Dakuitoga’s side.
Kevin Naiqama had a successful spell over in England with St Helens. Naiqama lifted the Challenge Cup and Super League trophy, as well as winning the Harry Sunderland trophy on his final start in this country. He will return to Super League in 2023 as he has signed a two-year deal with the Huddersfield Giants.
Ben Nakubuwai and Sitiveni Moceidreke have both featured this season in the Championship for Leigh Centurions and London Broncos respectively.
Fiji could be without some of their key players. Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau both played an important role during Penrith Panthers victory in the NRL Grand Final and could be a doubt for the fixture. Meanwhile, Maika Sivo also featured in the Grand Final, however he was on the losing side for Parramatta.