Chris Heighinton included in England World Cup final squad

Chris Heighington in action for England
Chris Heighington in action for England

Veteran forward Chris Heighington has been recalled by England for Saturday’s World Cup final against Australia.

The 34-year-old, who played in the first two games, takes a spot on the bench as James Roby starts at hooker in place of the injured Josh Hodgson.

Chris Heighington during an England Rugby League Team training run before their quarter final match against Papua New Guinea

Chris Heighington during an England Rugby League Team training run before their quarter final match against Papua New Guinea

Captain Sean O’Loughlin is recovering from a quad injury he suffered in the semi-final but is selected in the team.

Kangaroos’ coach Mal Meninga has named an unchanged squad for the final at Queensland’s Suncorp Stadium which will be refereed by Aussie Gerard Sutton.

The Green and Golds have already got the better of England in this tournament when they recorded a 18-4 win in Melbourne. last month.

And while the hosts looked superb in their 54-6 in the semi-final win over Fiji last week, England only just managed hold off Tonga in their last four match.

In the build-up to the first final between the teams in 22 years, England coach Wayne Bennett was asked if his team can beat Australia, and in response said:: “Probably not, but we will be there next week. We will still go to the game.”

Roby said that his team-mates face another tough task against the side who are red-hot favourites to lift the trophy once more.

“Australia will be the favourites and deservedly so,” said the 32-year-old. “They played well against Fiji on Friday.

“We know it’s a daunting challenge task and that we’re going to have to be at our best if we’re going to get anywhere near that World Cup. That’s the task in front of us and it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

England last reached this stage in 1995 when they were defeated 16-8 by the Kangaroos at Wembley Stadium. Prior to that the home nations competed as Great Britain who won the competition on three occasions - the last of which was in 1972.

They have reached the semi-finals on the previous three occasions, losing to New Zealand each time.

England: G Widdop (St George Illawarra); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), K Watkins (Leeds), J Bateman (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); K Brown (Warrington), L Gale (Castleford); C Hill (Warrington), J Roby (St Helens), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Burgess (South Sydney), E Whitehead (Canberra), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt).

Interchanges: A Walmsley (St Helens), B Currie (Warrington), T Burgess (South Sydney), C Heighington (Cronulla).

Australia squad: B Slater, D Gagai, W Chambers, J Dugan, V Holmes, M Morgan, C Cronk, Woods, C Smith, D Klemmer, B Cordner, M Gillett, J McGuire, W Graham, J McLean, R Campbell-Gillard, T Frizell, F Kaufusi, T Trbojevic, J Mansour, J Maloney.