Rugby League World Cup 2013: Josh Charnley and James Roby return for quarter-final clash with France
Charnley replaces wing Tom Briscoe while Roby comes in for Carl Ablett
Thursday 14 November 2013
England could have as many as six Wigan men playing on their home ground when they look to book their place in the World Cup semi-finals at the DW Stadium on Saturday night.
Sam Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin, Michael McIlorum and Liam Farrell, who were in the team that beat Fiji in England's final group game in Hull last Saturday, are joined by Warriors club-mates Josh Charnley and Lee Mossop in Steve McNamara's 19-man squad for the quarter-final against France.
McIlorum, whose appearance at the KC Stadium was his first of the tournament, could miss out on final selection, however, with St Helens hooker James Roby recalled after being rested for the Fiji game.
With Rob Burrow, who can provide cover at half-back as well as hooker, having recovered from a head knock, McIlorum looks likely to be one of the two players omitted when McNamara finalises his line-up.
Charnley, Super League's leading tryscorer for the last two seasons, is certain to win his fourth cap after being recalled at the expense of Tom Briscoe in the only other change made by McNamara to the side that completed back-to-back wins in the tournament.
"It has been a difficult selection," said McNamara, who used every member of his 23-man squad in the three group games.
"We have no injuries to worry about and we have picked the strongest possible squad to take on France.
"The competition for places, across all areas of the squad, is phenomenal and, as a staff, we are seeing a real competitive edge from every member, whether that is in the gym or on the training field.
"It is a great position to be in and I acknowledge that we have a tremendous work ethic with every member of the group supporting each other."
Gareth Widdop, Tom Burgess and Carl Ablett are the players definitely watching from the sidelines for the second week in a row as McNamara closes in on what he feels is his strongest team.
Although England showed flashes of brilliance in the pool stages, they also struggled at times, with 12 of their 18 tries coming in 20-minutes bursts.
"We played with a lot of vigour and intent against Fiji," McNamara said. "We showed for long periods of the game that we can play to a high standard.
"We need to improve our concentration and be on our game for the full duration this week. We are gradually improving each week. Now is the time to really produce the goods."
England are expected to brush asside the challenge of the French, who lost 48-4 in the last meeting of the two teams last November and have scored just two tries in scraping through to the last eight.
However, McNamara is acutely aware of the potential banana skin, having watched his players underestimate the Italians before the World Cup started, and acknowledges the mounting pressure on his side.
"We are playing knockout football this weekend," he said. "There are no second chances and we have to turn it on.
"It is a big game occasion, the quarter-final of the Rugby League World Cup, and we are well aware that we will have to play well to progress.
"Even though we know the strengths of the France team, with their Super League experience, our focus this week has been on our game and making sure we continue to build.
"The lads have been terrific in every session and we are very excited about playing in front of another bumper crowd.
"It should be a fantastic night at the DW Stadium with a passionate atmosphere expected at one of the sport's best stadiums."
England's 19-man squad for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against France:
G Burgess (South Sydney), S Burgess (South Sydney), R Burrow (Leeds), J Charnley (Wigan), R Chase (Castleford), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), L Farrell (Wigan), B Ferres (Huddersfield), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), R Hall (Leeds), C Hill (Warrington), M McIlorum (Wigan), L Mossop (Wigan), S O'Loughlin (Wigan), J Roby (St Helens), K Sinfield (Leeds, capt), S Tomkins (Wigan), K Watkins (Leeds), B Westwood (Warrington).
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