Lomax at full back against Kiwis

Jonny Lomax during England's training session
Jonny Lomax during England's training session

Johnny Lomax has been named at full back for England’s opening Four Nations game against New Zealand at Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon.

Wigan duo Liam Farrell and George Williams were the unlucky players when coach Wayne Bennett finalised his team for sell-out clash with the Kiwis.

Bennett showed his hand after the final team run at Huddersfield, revealing that he will be sticking with half-backs Gareth Widdop and Luke Gale following their first appearance together in last week’s 40-6 win over France in Avignon.

“I’ve only named a 19 because that’s the rules here, I’ve already settled on a 17,” Bennett told the media pitchside at the John Smith’s Stadium. “George Williams will be out, as will Liam Farrell.

“I think George is a very talented player; it was pretty close but we’re going this way at the moment, so it’s up to the boys to perform now.”

Mark Percival misses out on a spot despite his impresive showing against France, with Kallum Watkins and Dan Sarginson taking the centre spots.

A winnings start is crucial, with the losers at the John Smith’s Stadium facing an uphill battle to reach the November 20 final at Anfield.

“We all know the importance of the game,” said England captain Sam Burgess said. “It is Test match rugby and every game should be do or die.

“We are preparing on a daily basis to get the best performance on Saturday. I’m pretty sure it is going to be a good game, that physical encounter between both teams.”

There are 12 survivors from the England 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, and are expected to improve on their performance in a 26-6 defeat by Australia earlier this month.

“They’ve got as good a Kiwis side as I’ve seen for a while,” Burgess said. “They will really test us. It will be a great challenge but we are there to get the win.

“I’m certainly looking forward to it. Training has been ramping up last few days and pretty excited to get out there Saturday and get to battle with the Kiwi boys.”

Teams for the Ladbrokes Four Nations Series match between England and New Zealand at Huddersfield on Saturday are:

England: J Lomax (St Helens); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), K Watkins (Leeds), D Sarginson (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), L Gale (Castleford); C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), E Whitehead (Canberra), J Bateman (Wigan), S Burgess (South Sydney).

Subs: D Clark (Warrington), G Burgess (South Sydney), T Burgess (South Sydney), M Cooper (St George Illawarra).

New Zealand: J Kahu (Brisbane); J Nightingale (St George Illawarra), S Kata (NZ Warriors), S Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), J Rapana (Canberra); T Leuluai (NZ Warriors), S Johnson (NZ Warriors); J Bromwich (Melbourne, capt), I Luke (NZ Warriors), J Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), K Proctor (Melbourne), T Harris (Melbourne), J Taumalolo (North Queensland).

Subs: L Brown (Penrith), M Taupau (Wests Tigers), M Ma’u (Parramatta), A Blair (Brisbane).

Referee: R Hicks (England).