England injury worries deepen with late fitness test for Hall

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The Independent Online

England face further injury woe for their Four Nations game with New Zealand on Saturday, with Ryan Hall struggling to recover from a hamstring pull. The Leeds winger did the damage during the warm-up draw with the New Zealand Maori on Saturday.

The only Rhino in the squad, he has been England's first-choice winger for the last 18 months and was Super League's leading try-scorer last year. "He has tweaked the hamstring and we will probably make a call on it overnight," said an England spokesman.

Their coach, Steve McNamara, will announce his 17 for the match in Wellington today. If Hall is ruled out, it will mean a first cap for Darrell Goulding of Wigan or Huddersfield's Leroy Cudjoe.

McNamara has already lost two leading half-backs in Danny McGuire and Kyle Eastmond – there is a doubt as well over Sam Tomkins – and his two most battle-hardened props, Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley. Ruling out Hall would further stack the odds against them in a match that many feel England must win if they are to have a realistic chance of making the final.

Their predicament is underlined by the way that the New Zealand coach, Stephen Kearney, has the opposite problem: who to leave out. Kearney named his team yesterday, switching the Wigan scrum-half Thomas Leuluai to his alternative position of hooker. Nathan Fien will partner Benji Marshall at half-back and Isaac Luke will be on the bench. Simon Mannering has been promoted to the starting pack and Frank Prichard is dropped to a place among the possible substitutes.

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