England recall Widdop, Ablett

Date published: Thursday, November 21, 2013

England have made two changes from the 19-man squad they selected against France with the return of Melbourne Storm half-back Gareth Widdop and Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett.

They replace Castleford Tigers half-back Rangi Chase and Wigan Warriors hooker Michael McIlorum ahead Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 semi-final against New Zealand at Wembley Stadium (1.00pm).

Widdop, who will play for St George Ilawarra Dragons in the NRL next season, has not figured in the tournament since England’s 42-0 victory over Ireland in the group stages. The Halifax-born pivot will be hoping to secure his place in the final 17, which will be announced by coach Steve McNamara 90 minutes before kick-off on Saturday.

“As with every week, the squad is picked with not only the opposition in mind but the best combinations for ourselves,” said McNamara.

“We have had a great week with our preparation and the players are ready to take on the world champions in what I believe is the biggest game we have been involved in since the Rugby League World Cup semi-final back in 2008.

“The players are well aware of the importance of the game and the improvements we have to make from our previous matches to give ourselves every chance of beating New Zealand.

“We will have to be at our best to win, but we’ll relish the pressure of playing against a quality team on one of the biggest stages in world sport.”

Squad: Ablett, G Burgess, S Burgess, Burrow, Charnley, Cudjoe, Farrell, Ferres, Graham, Hall, Hill, Mossop, O’Loughlin, Roby, Sinfield, Tomkins, Watkins, Westwood, Widdop.