Rugby League World Cup: Steve McNamara abandons Rangi Chase after quarter-final lapses


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The Independent Online

England's coach, Steve McNamara, has bitten the bullet and dropped Rangi Chase for the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Saturday.

The Kiwi-born Castleford stand-off has been England's choice throughout the tournament so far, but his error-strewn performance in the quarter-final against France has persuaded McNamara that a change needs to be made.

That represents a major climbdown, because he has stuck faithfully with Chase, despite criticism that started when he declared that he wanted to play for England under the residency rule.

"As with every week, the squad is picked with not only the opposition in mind, but the best combinations for ourselves," said McNamara, explaining his U-turn.

If the England coach has changed his mind about Chase, he has also done so about the player set to replace him, Gareth Widdop. Halifax-born, but groomed at the Melbourne Storm, he has had little game time during the tournament and was left out of the team against France.

McNamara also includes Leeds' hooker or half-back Rob Burrow, while Michael McIlorum is left out, with the Leeds utility player, Carl Ablett, coming in.

The Kiwis are without the injured Manu Vatuvei, with the equally experienced Jason Nightingale replacing him on the left wing.

England Tomkins; Charnley, Watkins, Cudjoe, Hall; Widdop, Sinfield (capt); S Burgess, Roby, Graham, Westwood, Ferres, O'Loughlin. Substitutes G Burgess, Hill, Burrow, Ablett.