Widdop to fullback for new-look England

Widdop to fullback for new-look England

England coach Wayne Bennett has made some positional switches for the final World Cup pool game, against France on Sunday night in Perth, including Gareth Widdop to fullback and Josh Hodgson rested.

Regular fullback Jonny Lomax is out with a calf strain, allowing Kevin Brown to come in and partner Luke Gale in the halves. 

Veteran hooker James Roby has been recalled and will start in place of Raider Josh Hodgson. Fellow Raider Elliott Whitehead is also out with Mike McMeeken to start in the back row. Mark Percival replaces Kallum Watkins in the centres and Hull FC prop Scott Taylor joins the bench with Chris Heighington out.

Stefan Ratchford gets a start on the wing in place of Ryan Hall while Jermaine McGillvary – who will front the judiciry on Wednesday night to answer a contrary conduct charge after allegedly biting Lebanon's Robbie Farah – has at this stage been named to hold his place on the other wing.

"I was pleased with the win against Lebanon but I'm looking for a better performance this week," said England coach Wayne Bennett in a statement.

"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 face 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