Wigan duo set to miss England’s Four Nations opener

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Burgess full of praise for England boss Bennett

Wigan centre Liam Farrell and stand-off George Williams will be trimmed from England’s squad to face New Zealand in the Four Nations opener on Saturday.

Coach Wayne Bennett will stick with half-backs Gareth Widdop and Luke Gale, while Dan Sarginson comes in at centre.

John Bateman is set to feature in the second row, while captain Sam Burgess will make his first England appearance since returning from rugby union.

“George Williams will be out, as will Liam Farrell,” said Bennett.

South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Burgess, who was banned for the friendly win over France last week, last played league for England in the World Cup semi-final defeat by the Kiwis at Wembley in 2013.

“Sam’s ready to pull on the England rugby league shirt,” added Australian coach Bennett.

Forward Burgess, 27, played union for England in last year’s Rugby World Cup after joining Bath, but returned to the NRL this season.

New Zealand coach David Kidwell looks set to stick with the same team that suffered a 26-6 defeat by Australia on Saturday.

“I’m really happy with how the boys have trained,” said Kidwell, who will be taking charge of his second match. “We understand the challenge and need to be at our best.”

‘We don’t care what England do or think’

New England coach Bennett was understood to be in contention for the Australia job last year, something that led to a feud with new Kangaroos boss Mal Meninga, a man he has known for more than 40 years.

Meninga, whose side face Scotland in the opening game of the competition on Friday, says Bennett has since been trying to “undermine my authority”.

England face Australia on Sunday, 13 November.

“What disappoints me is that, as a grown man and a professional, he should be able to accept the decision once it has been made,” Meninga told the Courier Mail.

“It does annoy me that he is in the background chipping away, trying to undermine my authority and my position with the Australian Rugby League.

“Maybe it is just a tactical ploy, hoping if he gets under my skin then I will take my focus off the job at hand. It’s not working.”

England squad: John Bateman, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Liam Farrell, Luke Gale, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Jermaine McGillvary, Dan Sarginson, Kallum Watkins, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams.

New Zealand squad: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Tohu Harris, Shaun Johnson, Jordan Kahu, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Manu Ma’u, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

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