Widdop in for England

Gareth Widdop
Gareth Widdop
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GARETH Widdop has been recalled to the England RL squad alongside five Wigan players for Saturday’s semi-final against New Zealand.

Michael McIlorum is the only Warriors star to miss out with Sean O’Loughlin, Lee Mossop, Sam Tomkins, Liam Farrell and Josh Charnley all selected.

Widdop is one of two changes from the 19-man squad Steve McNamara selected against France with the return of Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett too.

Castleford Tigers half-back Rangi Chase misses out alongside McIlorum.

Widdop, who will play for St George Ilawarra Dragons in the NRL next season, has not figured in the tournament since England’s 42-0 victory over Ireland in the group stages.

The Halifax-born pivot will be hoping to secure his place in the final 17, which will be announced by coach Steve McNamara 90 minutes before kick-off on Saturday.

England will need to improve on a below-par performance form their quarter-final against France last week.

A defeat would mean it’s a cruel farewell to rugby on English soil for Mossop and Tomkins, who are both heading for the NRL next season.

“This is my first World Cup and to have it in England is pretty impressive,” said Mossop. “You watch the other games and they have nearly all been a sell-out, there haven’t been many blowout scores.

“A lot of nations have surprised people like Scotland and the Pacific nations. It has been a massive success and probably one of the best World Cups so far.

“We have played every game this year, we haven’t had a weekend off, but World Cups don’t come around too often so we are all buzzing and full of energy.

“It can take its toll, but I think the coaching staff at Wigan and the sports science staff we had made a few changes to what we did in previous years to make sure we were all fresh going into the business end of the season.

“Having made the two finals with Wigan it definitely worked and we have got the same stuff going on with England so we are all fresh, and if you are not up for a semi-final I would say there is something up with you.”

Mossop believes that defending champions New Zealand have been the best side in the tournament so far, though believes that England must first concentrate on their own game before tackling the holders.

“For me New Zealand are the best team in the competition this year,” said Mossop. “I think the way they are playing, the points they have got on the board and the individual brilliance they have got is showing every week. We are under no illusions that if we don’t play well this week we are out

“You can’t concentrate on them too much because if you do that then you won’t do your own job correctly. You have to do your bit right first.

“I think it is just a case of putting into practice what we do in training. That is the frustrating part, during the week we are training fantastically and it is just not quite transferring onto the field.

“But we are at the semi-final stage – it is do or die now. If we don’t do what we have been practising the chances are we will be out and I think people have been conscious of that this week.

“But if we get the small things right and defend tough and run hard then the attacking flair that we have got will come off the back of that and I am confident we can do that on Saturday.”

Full England squad:

Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Parkside)

George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)

Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)

Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)

Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)

Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)

Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)

Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)

James Graham (Canterbury Bulldog, Blackbrook)

Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)

Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)

Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors, Hensingham)

Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)

James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)

Kevin Sinfield (captain) (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)

Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)

Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)

Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)

Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm, Kings Cross)