28 Oct 2016

England ring the changes for Kiwis test

5:55 am on 28 October 2016

England rugby league coach Wayne Bennett has made four changes to his side for Sunday morning's Four Nations opener against New Zealand at Huddersfield.

Sam Burgess and Jesse Bromwich hold the Four Nations trophy.

Sam Burgess and Jesse Bromwich hold the Four Nations trophy. Photo: Photosport

Centre Mark Percival and prop Scott Taylor, who made their Test debuts against France in Avignon last Saturday, are the notable omissions from the team that won 40-6 in Bennett's first match in charge.

Also discarded from that team are five-eighth Kevin Brown and utility Stefan Ratchford, who were on the bench last weekend.

The remaining 13 are joined by new skipper Sam Burgess, who was suspended for the France game, and Super League Grand Finalists Dan Sarginson, Chris Hill, John Bateman, Liam Farrell and George Williams.

It will be Burgess' first appearance since the World Cup semi-final defeat by the Kiwis at Wembley in 2013 while Sarginson is recalled after a two-year absence.

Sarginson will be vying with Jonny Lomax for the fullback spot but could also take the vacant centre berth.

The other poser is whether the coach will stick with a halfback pairing of Gareth Widdop and Luke Gale or bring in George Williams, a player he is known to admire.

"I was pleased with the way the players conducted themselves last week in France and the hard work they put in," Bennett said.

"There's things we've looked at in the game and worked on this week. The boys know the pressure and the intensity will rise as we get closer to Saturday - it's a challenge we're all looking forward to.

"We've got a strong squad here who are ready to go and desperate to play to show us what they can do which is good to see.

"Sam's also back from suspension and ready to pull on the England rugby league shirt.

"It's been a few years since he played over here and I'm sure the sell-out crowd at Huddersfield will be keen to see him out there."

There are 12 survivors from the team that beat New Zealand 20-14 in the third Test at Wigan last November to clinch the three-match series.

The Kiwis have since changed their coach, with David Kidwell stepping up from the role of assistant to take over from Stephen Kearney.

"They're a talented rugby league nation who know how to play the game and use the ball," Bennett said.

"Playing in intense games like these is something they are used to and is something we need to match and work hard if we want to get the result."