ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara has selected a team rich in experience and quality for Friday night’s CarPlan International Origin Match at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
Led by Jamie Peacock, who wears the captain’s armband for the first time since last year’s mid-season international against France, England will start with a formidable pack against opponents drawn from the best Australian and New Zealand players currently playing in the Engage Super League.
Peacock, who missed the 2010 Four Nations after undergoing knee surgery, is joined in the front row by the man who replaced him as captain in Australia and New Zealand, James Graham of St Helens. The back row features a recalled Jon Wilkin alongside Warrington Wolves stalwart Ben Westwood with Wigan Warriors skipper Sean O’Loughlin at loose forward.
Luke Robinson, who has been in top form at No.9 for Huddersfield Giants this year, starts at hooker in the absence of the injured James Roby with Michael McIlorum of Wigan named on the bench for his England debut.
Sam Tomkins, the Engage Super League young player of the year for 2009 and 2010, starts at full-back behind a three-quarter line packed full of exciting players, including Warrington centre Chris Bridge, who partners Hull FC’s Tom Briscoe on the left.
Ryan Hall of Leeds and St Helens centre Michael Shenton occupy the right flank pairing.
At half-back, England start with Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield at stand-off, a role he has occupied for the Rhinos for much of 2011, with Warrington’s Richie Myler starting at scrum-half in a deserved return for a player who scored a hat-trick of tries on his full international debut for England against Wales in 2009.
A strong bench includes Warrington props Adrian Morley and Garreth Carvell alongside McIlorum and Wigan Warriors second row Joel Tomkins.
1 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors and Wigan St Pats)
2 Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos and Oulton Raiders)
3 Michael Shenton (St Helens and Upton)
4 Chris Bridge (Warrington Wolves and Waterhead)
5 Tom Briscoe (Hull FC and Featherstone Lions)
6 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos and Waterhead)
7 Richard Myler (Warrington Wolves and Halton West Bank)
8 Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos and Stanningley, capt)
9 Luke Robinson (Huddersfield Giants and Siddal)
10 James Graham (St Helens and Blackbrook)
11 Jon Wilkin (St Helens and East Hull)
12 Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves and Normanton Knights)
13 Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors and Wigan St Patricks)
14 Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors and Queens)
15 Adrian Morley (Warrington Wolves and Eccles)
16 Garreth Carvell (Warrington Wolves and Stanningley)
17 Joel Tomkins (Wigan Warriors and Wigan St Patricks)
Brian McClennan’s Exiles team is:
1 Brett Hodgson (Warrington Wolves & Australia)
2 Pat Richards (Wigan Warriors & Australia)
3 George Carmont (Wigan Warriors & Samoa)
4 Matt King (Warrington Wolves & Australia)
5 Francis Meli (St Helens & Samoa)
6 Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers & New Zealand)
7 Thomas Leuluai (Wigan Warriors & New Zealand)
8 Tony Puletua (St Helens & New Zealand)
9 Danny Buderus (Captain) (Leeds Rhinos & Australia)
10 Mark O’Meley (Hull FC & Australia)
11 Iosia Soliola (St Helens & New Zealand)
12 Willie Manu (Hull FC & Tonga)
13 Craig Fitzgibbon (Hull FC & Australia)
14 David Faiumu (Huddersfield Giants & New Zealand)
15 Kylie Leuluai (Leeds Rhinos & Samoa)
16 Louis Anderson (Warrington Wolves & New Zealand)
17 David Fa’alogo (Huddersfield Giants & New Zealand)