Clubb to make England debut

England coach Steve McNamara has named one debutant in his team for Saturday’s Four Nations match against Papua New Guinea in Auckland.

Tony Clubb, the Harlequins RL centre, will make his international bow at Eden Park in place of Ryan Atkins of Warrington Wolves.

McNamara said Clubb was unlucky not to have featured before in the tournament and is looking forward to seeing the Londoner in action.

“Tony has been a fantastic tourist, I couldn’t have asked for more from him both on and off the field,” McNamara told England RL TV.

“He is enthusiastic in everything he does. Tony has been mentioned in selection meetings before this week and I’m confident he is ready to make his debut on Saturday.”

At 23, Clubb is the oldest player in England’s backline on Saturday when Sam Tomkins, 21, retains his full-back spot and the other three-quarters will be Ryan Hall, 23, Leroy Cudjoe, 22, and 20-year-old Tom Briscoe.

England will start with Huddersfield duo Kevin Brown and Luke Robinson reprising their club partnership at half-back, a change which allows Sean O’Loughlin to move back into the pack from stand-off.

Two players who suffered slight knocks in the defeat against Australia last week were not considered for selection - Joel Tomkins (calf) and Darrell Goulding (knee).

“At a push we could have got Darrell and Joel out there this weekend but I am happy with the players I have brought in,” said McNamara, who is expecting a tough, physical test from the Kumuls.

“All the other changes have been made for tactical reasons. The Kumuls’ strength is their physicality and we need to be ready for that. We need to be smart as well.

“It is important that we put in an accomplished performance on Saturday. Had we been playing Australia or New Zealand this week there were areas that we need to improve up: the same applied for Papua New Guinea.

“We must continue to make progress in key areas as an international team.”

The England team to face Papua New Guinea at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday is as follows (professional and community clubs in brackets):

1 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
2 Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
3 Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome)
4 Tony Clubb (Harlequins RL, Greenwich Admirals)
5 Tom Briscoe (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
6 Kevin Brown (Huddersfield Giants, Thatto Heath)
7 Luke Robinson (Huddersfield Giants, Siddal)
8 James Graham (St Helens, Blackbrook) (capt)
9 James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
10 Sam Burgess (South Sydney, Dewsbury Moor)
11 Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers, Castleford Lock Lane)
12 Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)
13 Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks) Interchange
14 Darrell Griffin (Huddersfield Giants, Oxford Cavaliers)
15 Garreth Carvell (Warrington Wolves, Stanningley)
16 Ben Harrison (Warrington Wolves, Barrow Island)
17 Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm, King Cross).


Interviews with Steve McNamara and Papua New Guinea coach Stanley Gene previewing this weekend’s game can be seen by visiting www.englandrl.co.uk

England v Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations on Saturday November 6 will be screened live in the UK on Sky Sports 1 from 4.30am (5.00am kick off) with extended highlights shown on BBC1 at 2.15pm.