ENGLAND have made two changes to the 19-man squad they selected against Fiji for Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 quarter-final against France at the DW Stadium, Wigan (8pm).
Saints hooker James Roby and Wigan’s Josh Charnley both return to the squad in place of Hull FC’s Tom Briscoe and Carl Ablett of Leeds Rhinos.
“It has been a difficult selection,” said England coach Steve McNamara, who believes his team are improving each week in the competition.
“We have no injuries to worry about and we have picked the strongest possible squad to take on France.
“The competition for places, across all areas of the squad, is phenomenal and, as a staff, we are seeing a real competitive edge from every member; whether that is in the gym or on the training field. It is a great position to be in and I acknowledge that we have a tremendous work ethic with every member of the group supporting each other.”
With France beaten last autumn in the final of the 2012 Autumn Internationals by England, Saturday will be the first time both nations have met since the 48-4 victory for Steve McNamara’s men just over a year ago.
“We are playing knockout football this weekend,” he said. “There are no second chances and we have to turn it on. It is a big game occasion, the quarter-final of the Rugby League World Cup, and we are well aware that we will have to play well to progress.
“We played with a lot of vigour and intent against Fiji. We showed, for long periods of the game, that we can play to a high standard. We need to improve our concentration and be on our game for the full duration this week. We are gradually improving each week. Now is the time to really produce the goods.
“Even though we know the strengths of the France team, with their Super League experience, our focus this week has been on our game and making sure we continue to build.
“The lads have been terrific, in every session, and we are very excited about playing in front of another bumper crowd.
“It should be a fantastic night at the DW Stadium with a passionate atmosphere expected at one of the sport’s best stadiums.”
George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Rob Burrow, Josh Charnley, Rangi Chase, Leroy Cudjoe, Liam Farrell, Brett Ferres, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O’Loughlin, James Roby, Kevin Sinfield, Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins, Ben Westwood.
Jean-Philippe Baile, William Barthau, Kane Bentley, Thomas Bosc, Damien Cardace, Remi Casty, Vincent Duport, Olivier Elima, Morgan Escare, Jamal Fakir, Tony Gigot, Clint Greenshields, Younes Khattabi, Antoni Maria, Gregory Mounis, Eloi Pelissier, Sebastian Raguin, Mickael Simon, Cyril Stacul.