Steve McNamara gives nod to Michael McIlorum for warm-up
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Rugby League Correspondent
Saturday 19 October 2013
The England coach, Steve McNamara, has given a few clues as to his thinking about his choice of team for the World Cup as he and his rivals enter the final stage of preparation for the competition this weekend.
England play Italy at Salford today, with two of the Burgess brothers, Sam and Tom, while a third, George, is on duty for the second-string England Knights in the first half of the double-header against Samoa.
Other pointers to McNamara’s plans could be the selection of Michael McIlorum at hooker ahead of James Roby and Leeds’ new signing Tom Briscoe starting on the wing rather than Josh Charnley.
McNamara is without Ben Westwood, who is serving a one-match ban for his punch on Blake Green in the Grand Final, and Sean O’Loughlin, who still has some soreness in the Achilles injury he carried into that match.
Italy, in their first World Cup, are largely an unknown quantity, but they do have the Minichiello brothers, Anthony and Mark, as well as St Helens’ Anthony Laffranchi.
The reigning champions, New Zealand, are also in action, playing the World Cup’s smallest nation, the Cook Islands, at Doncaster. The Kiwis are not fielding any of the players who featured in the NRL Grand Final last weekend, so Sonny Bill Williams will not play until the match against Samoa at Warrington a week tomorrow.
England’s game against Ireland at Huddersfield on 2 November has become the first to sell out completely, which the organisers say is an indication that this World Cup will be the most watched ever.
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