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Sam Tomkins will again be key for England as they look to topple the Kiwis in Dunedin.

Australia have been officially warned they risk falling to third in rugby league's world rankings if England beats New Zealand 3-0 in the Test series that kicks off in Hull on Sunday.

Latest news from New Zealand's tour of the UK

England and St George-Illawarra five-eighth Gareth Widdop told last week he felt Australia should pay the price for refusing to play this spring if Steve McNamara's side outgunned the No.1 ranked Kiwis.

Widdop's view appears to have the support of the game's global governing body, with an official Rugby League International Federation statement on Thursday reading, in part: "A very strong performance (from England), three wins, could put pressure on the Kangaroos in second place."

But the task facing the home team was made harder around the same time following the withdrawal of fullback Sam Tomkins from the entire series due to a knee injury. 

Coach McNamara, who believes England needs to win a series including Australia before it can be ranked ahead of the World Cup holders, explained: "He had a pretty strong reaction after Tuesday's training session.

"All of the information that we were given was that, if you strengthened the knee to a certain level, there was a strong possibility he would be able to play in this Test series and that he would be fit for the first Test.

"With those odds, we took the opportunity to include him in the squad and he's done a brilliant job. He's worked so hard and really has strengthened his knee, but there is an underlying issue there and he will have to go back and seek further opinions in the next few weeks."


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