MICHAEL McIlorum is set to make his England World Cup bow after being named in coach Steve McNamara’s squad to face Fiji at Hull’s KC Stadium on Saturday.
McIlorum played for Ireland in the 2008 World Cup in Australia and earns his England chance as they push for a quarter final spot at the DW Stadium in just over a week’s time.
Parramatta-bound Warrior Lee Mossop returns to the squad after missing last week’s 42-0 win over Ireland.
“Mickey (McIlorum) deserves his call up,” said McNamara. “He has trained tremendously hard. He is an aggressive type of player, who will command the middle of the field.”
England have made three changes from the 19-man squad they selected against Ireland for their final group match, which sees South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Tom Burgess, St Helens’ James Roby and Melbourne Storm’s Gareth Widdop rested.
A win over Fiji will guarantee England second place in group and McNamara is confident of his side getting the result.
“We have trained well and we are ready to put in a performance,” he said.
“I get the feeling the group on the verge of some really big performances and this will be one of them.
“We are coming up against opposition we respect. We have so far seen a Fiji team that is very exciting to watch with some brilliant outside backs. They have a set of forwards that are as physical as any team in the tournament. I can see why people see them as a threat on Saturday.
“Across the make-up of their team, the vast majority of their players are regular starters in the NRL and they are used to this level of intensity.
“The aim for us is gradual progression. We are looking to improve each week as the tournament moves towards the knockout stages. It is important to win against teams in and around you, but at some point you have to make sure all elements that have been positive in every game come together aiming for that complete performance. We know that if we are going to win the World Cup that has to happen.”
Liam Farrell is also in the squad but Josh Charnley misses out for a second consecutive week.
England squad to face Fiji
Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos)
Tom Briscoe (Hull FC)
George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos)
Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants)
James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves)
Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors)
Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)
Kevin Sinfield (captain) (Leeds Rhinos)
Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves)