Smith puts faith in Bridge for tough Kiwi test

It is time for the unlikely lads to come to the aid of the party at Huddersfield this evening. If England are to beat New Zealand and progress into the final of the Four Nations next weekend, they need special performances from players who, at different stages, seemed unlikely to be involved in this sort of occasion.

The issue for Chris Bridge, selected in the problem right centre position, has never been lack of ability. The England coach, Tony Smith, had him at Huddersfield almost a decade ago, Although it was too early for him to command a first-team place, Smith remembers him as "the biggest talent in the place. Then we were relegated and had to release him to Bradford, where he didn't achieve what he should have done."

Part of the reason for that was a talent for getting into trouble off the pitch, including a conviction for obstructing the police.

Bridge has not entirely left those habits behind. He was arrested, but not charged after a fight outside a nightclub this season, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He's been prone to going off the rails from time to time, but he's shown no sign of that lately," Smith says, arguing that Bridge has finally become serious about his rugby.

At the same time, he has ended his dalliance with Ireland, for whom he qualified through his grandfather, in favour of playing for England. Bridge scored the points against Lebanon that took Ireland to last year's World Cup, although he was prevented from joining them by a ruptured Achilles.

He now has the look of a player intent on making up for lost time, although it is asking a lot for him to step up to the level required tonight.

The same applies to Hull KR winger Peter Fox, who shares with Bridge the experience of being rejected by his first senior club, in his case Leeds, before rebuilding his career with lowly York.

Smith has also taken the bold step of pairing two 20-year-old half-backs. He knows that his forwards will do a job, especially in the mud at the Galpharm Stadium, but much depends on what Kyle Eastmond and Sam Tomkins can do behind them.

New Zealand's Stephen Kearney has shown his own faith in youth by including 19-year-old Kieran Foran for his debut at centre, ahead of more experienced options.

Bobbie Goulding has his swine flu victims – Clint Greenshields, Dimitri Pelo and Sebastien Raguin – back in his French side for the daunting task against Australia in Paris. The Kangaroos, already in the final barring a catastrophe at the Charlety Stadium, could be a confusing proposition, with the identical twins, Josh and Brett Morris, on the same side of the field.

Wales can take a major step forward in their rugby league renaissance tomorrow by beating Scotland to win the European Cup. Thriving under the coaching of Iestyn Harris, the Welsh were impressive in beating Ireland last week, while Scotland beat Lebanon.

The two defeated nations face each other for third place, also at Bridgend, but the other game, between Italy and Serbia, has been switched to Maesteg.

England squad: S Briscoe, P Fox, C Bridge, M Shenton, R Hall, S Tomkins, K Eastmond, A Morley, J Roby, J Graham, J Peacock (capt), G Ellis, K Sinfield, E Crabtree, S Burgess, B Westwood, J Wilkin

New Zealand squad: L Hohaia, S Perrett, J Sau, K Foran, B Goodwin, B Marshall (capt), N Fien, F-P Nuuausala, T Leuluai, F Moimoi, I Soliola, F Pritchard, A Blair, I Luke, J Lima, B Matulino, J Waerea-Hargreaves

Referee: S Hayne (Australia)

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living