England V Samoa preview: Here is everything you need to know ahead of today's Rugby League World Cup opener
England take on Samoa in the opening game of the tournament, with the pair going head-to-head at St James’ Park (2.30pm).
Here is some of the key information:
The warm-up game against Fiji was certainly England’s best performance to date under head coach Shaun Wane.
Dom Young took a lot of the headlines, with the winger producing a superb display in the 50-0 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.
With a few more players set to return, you’d expect more of the same during the tournament.
Samoa have become a lot of people’s favourites to win Group A.
Their side contains some world class talent, including six members of Penrith’s premiership winning team.
Throughout the last year, the number of quality players who have pledged their allegiance to Samoa, which makes them real contenders for the entire tournament.
Shaun Wane took over the England job in 2020, but has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic during his first few years.
Prior to this role, the former Great Britain prop spent eight season as Wigan Warriors head coach, winning three Super League Grand Finals and one Challenge Cup.
Meanwhile, Matt Parish has been Samoa head coach since 2013, overseeing two World Cup campaigns.
He has also been an assistant at a number of NRL clubs, as briefly being in charge of Salford.
Young could prove to be vital for England, as will Tommy Makinson on the other wing.
Sam Tomkins is expected to start at fullback for Wane’s side, while Jack Welsby looks set to start in the halves.
Meanwhile, Brian To’o and Jarome Luai are two members of the Penrith Panthers side who are included in the Samoa squad.
Wigan Warriors involvement:
Mike Cooper and Kai Pearce-Paul are both included in Shaun Wane’s 19-man squad for this afternoon’s game.
Meanwhile, John Bateman serves the final game of his three-match ban.
Where to watch:
The game is being broadcast live on BBC One, with coverage starting at 1.15pm.
Meanwhile, fans can listen on Radio 5 Sports Extra.
The World Cup’s 12-month delay has probably been a blessing in disguise, as it’s allowed more time for the tournament to be advertised and for anticipation to grow.
A huge opportunity now awaits the entire sport throughout the next month.
This is a chance to attract a whole new fanbase and to show people what rugby league is truly about.
The best players from both sides of the globe are going to be on display, with some fantastic stadiums hosting the matches.
Games should be played to a very high standard in most cases, while off-field traditions will be just as engaging for those in the stands.
England V Samoa at St James’ Park will hopefully be a great way to kick things off.
While it may be too early to say, this game may very well decide who finishes top of Group A.
With so many top teams being around at the moment, England will need to get off to a good start to get the home supporters behind them.