Lockers to miss England opener

Sean O'Loughlin
Sean O'Loughlin

NEWLY-appointed captain Sean O’Loughlin has been ruled out of England’s opening Four Nations game.

O’Loughlin, who was appointed as the successor to Kevin Sinfield, has failed to recover from a quad muscle injury sustained during Wigan’s Super League Grand Final defeat to St Helens 10 days ago.

England say the loose forward is making good progress in his recovery and should be able to play in England’s second match against Australia in Melbourne on November 2.

James Graham, the former St Helens forward who has spent the last three seasons in the NRL with Canterbury Bulldogs, will step into the role of captaining a team featuring four Wigan Warriors.

“It is a shame that Sean misses the match with a problem with his quad,” said England coach Steve McNamara.

“The Samoa match has come too soon but we remain confident he’ll be ready for Australia the week after.

“James Graham will take over the captaincy for this game. He is a great leader and we saw that with the Bulldogs this season in the NRL where he single-handedly led them to a Grand Final.

“He leads by example and gives 100 per cent effort in everything he does. He inspires everyone around him to follow his lead.”

Wigan scrum-half Matty Smith is among four debutants, along with Hull KR hooker Josh Hodgson in the starting line-up and Joe Westerman (Hull) and Daryl Clark (Castleford) on the bench.

Joel Tomkins also returns to the side, lining up alongside his brother Sam, while Josh Charnley has a wing spot.

Joe Burgess and Dan Sarginson were overlooked. England’s game with Samoa kicks-off at 7am UK time, and is live on BBC.

Team: S Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors); J Charnley (Wigan), K Watkins (Leeds), M Shenton (Castleford), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), M Smith (Wigan); G Burgess (South Sydney), J Hodgson (Hull KR), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs, capt), L Farrell (Wigan), J Tomkins (Wigan), J Westerman (Hull).

Replacements: D Clark (Castleford), B Ferres (Huddersfield), T Burgess (South Sydney), C Hill (Warrington).