Percival named in England side to face France

Mark Pervical has been named in Wayne Bennett's England squad along with fellow Saints James Roby and Alex Walmsley
Mark Pervical has been named in Wayne Bennett's England squad along with fellow Saints James Roby and Alex Walmsley
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England Rugby League head coach Wayne Bennett has made four changes to the squad that will take on France at nib Stadium, Perth on Sunday, November 12 (6.00pm AWST).

Bennett confirmed he wanted to give all 24 players some game time during the tournament after the Lebanon game and has brought in St Helens Mark Percival, Kevin Brown, Mike McMeeken and Scott Taylor into the starting 17 for the final pool game of Group A.

England’s last game against France was a 40–6 victory in Avignon ahead of the 2016 Four Nations tournament. Taylor, Ratchford, Gale and Percival all made their Test debuts and Widdop scored 16 points during this fixture.

Walmsley, who made his England Test debut against Lebanon last week, retains his place in the squad after impressing against the Cedars. His St Helens’ team-mate James Roby is recalled into the starting team and Gareth Widdop will play at full-back in the absence of Jonny Lomax who is recovering from a calf strain.

The England squad will be based in Perth during the week building up to the game on Sunday at nib Stadium which is also a double-header featuring Wales v Ireland at 3.30pm.

Bennett, said: “I was pleased with the win against Lebanon but I’m looking for a better performance this week.

“We lost our way in the second-half in the last game and that’s something we’ll be looking to improve on. We know what we’re capable of, so we’ll be aiming to put things right by Sunday.

“We’re off the mark now in this tournament and building each week. I know France have lost their first two games but that won’t alter the way we go into this one – they’re a strong side with some talented guys who can play. They’ll be doing everything they can to get a win in this group so we’ll have to be at our best.”

England 21-man squad to play against France:

Gareth Widdop

Stefan Ratchford

Mark Percival

John Bateman

Jermaine McGillvary

Kevin Brown

Luke Gale

Chris Hill

James Roby

James Graham

Ben Currie

Mike McMeeken

Sean O’Loughlin (c)

Alex Walmsley

Thomas Burgess

Scott Taylor

George Williams

Ryan Hall

Elliott Whitehead

Chris Heighington

Kallum Watkins