Sam Tomkins set for England return at half-back in first Test with New Zealand
England rugby league team Sam Tomkins set for England return at half-back in first Test with New Zealand â¢ Tomkins selected in unusual role after four-year absence
â¢ Hullâs Jake Connor preferred to Mark Percival at centre
Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins will make his England return after a four-year absence against New Z ealand â" at half-back, alongside club teammate George Williams.
The England head coach Wayne Bennett has announced his starting line-up for Saturdayâs first Test in Hull, with the major talking point being the recall of Tomkins, who will move to Catalans Dragons for the start of next season.'Nerves are good': George Williams prepares for England v New Zealand Read more
Tomkins has largely played at full-back for Wigan in their run to the Super League title this season, but St Helensâ Jonny Lomax is preferred in that position by Bennett.
Another eye-catching selection is that of Hull FC utility back Jake Connor at centre ahead of Mark Percival. Although his preferred position is stand-off, Connor is confident he can justify his selection in the three-quarters. âIâve played a lot of centre in my time,â he said. âItâs not new to me. Iâll try to do the same job that Iâve always done.â
The only debutant on Saturd ay will be the Wigan centre Oliver Gildart. âItâs not sunk in yet, I think the nerves will hit me tomorrow building up to the game,â Gildart said. âObviously itâs all new to me so Iâm kind of just taking it in my stride. Itâs a massive honour, thereâs some great players in this squad and Iâm really privileged to get my chance.â
Michael Maguire, the New Zealand head coach, first switched Tomkins to full-back while he was coach at Wigan, and has warned his team to be wary of his former charge.South Sydney Rabbitohs sign England head coach Wayne Bennett Read more
âHe helped me a few times when I was [at Wigan],â Maguire said. âHeâs won a couple of Grand Finals and a couple of Challenge Cups. Heâs a quality player and, once heâs got the ball in his hand, youâve got to be alert.
âHeâs like a rubber man â" he bounces all over the place and he loves to show the ball,â Maguire added. âWeâve going to have to ma ke sure weâre very strong defensively.â
Maguire has named the same 17-man squad that upset Australia earlier this month, winning 26-24 in Auckland. Eleven of Maguireâs players have fewer than 10 international caps, with Shaun Johnson the most experienced starter with 26 caps.
England team for first Test: Lomax; Makinson, Gildart, Connor, McGillvary; Williams, Tomkins; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, Whitehead, Bateman, OâLoughlin. Interchange: Clark, Thompson, G Burgess, T Burgess.
New Zealand team: Watene-Zelezniak; Maumalo, Marsters, Manu, Rapana; Johnson, Nikorima; Bromwich, Smith, Waerea-Hargreaves, Proctor, Liu, Fisher-Harris. Interchange: Bromwich, Ah Mau, Taupau, Blair.Topics
- England rugby league team
- Rugby league
- New Zealand rugby league
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