Crabtree back in the running for England
Huddersfield Giants prop Eorl Crabtree was part of a fully-fit squad of England players that took part in training for the clash with Australia.
With England head coach Tony Smith laid low by a stomach bug, assistant coach Steve McNamara took charge of training at Manchester’s English Institute of Sport.
Crabtree, who missed both the warm-up game against Wales and last Friday’s tournament-opening 34-12 win over France after undergoing minor knee surgery, took a full part in training today and will come into contention for Saturday’s match against the Kangaroos at Wigan Warriors' DW Stadium.
McNamara also reported a clean bill of health from Friday’s match, confirming hooker Scott Moore and full-back Shaun Briscoe were both substituted for tactical reasons and announcing scrum-half Richie Myler has recovered from the effects of concussion - although he will have to undergo a mandatory “head test”.
“He’ll be doing that but he’s completely fine,” said McNamara. “For the first time today, all 24 players have trained.
“There were no major injuries from the game, so we’ve 24 fit players to choose from. To have everyone for our first session of the week is a big plus for us.”
England have not ruled out making changes for the match at Wigan, where victory would take them through to the November 14 final with a game in hand.
“It’s very early in the week. But as with all performances, there were good things and bad things - and we’ll see if there are areas we can improve on,” said McNamara.
“I’m sure when Tony is fit and well we’ll further discuss that.
“It was probably not quite the performance we were looking for. But we got the win and we’ve a fully fit squad to choose from, so we’re very happy.”
Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens has described Saturday’s fixture as a “must-win” for his side following their 20-20 draw with New Zealand, and McNamara is anticipating something of a backlash from the tournament favourites.
“I really enjoyed watching their game,” he said. “It was a very physical game. Both sides have got a bit of improvement in them - I’m sure they will admit that.
“If Australia lose this game, they’re in a spot of trouble. But they’re dangerous regardless.
“They’re a super side, but we’ve got a very young bunch of players who are very keen to get out there and show what they can do.
“Everyone is looking forward to the challenge of playing Australia.”
McNamara welcomed the appointment of engage Super League referee Steve Ganson, who was in charge of Saturday’s Antipodean clash at the Twickenham Stoop.
“I think Steve is used to officiating in big games,” he said. “We obviously know how Steve officiates - he’s a pretty straight bloke.”
Smith, who was advised to stay away from training today by a doctor, is expected to rejoin the England squad tomorrow.