Walmsley set for England Test debut against Australia

Alex Walmsley is set to make his first England Test appearance in the Rugby League World Cup opener against defending champions Australia on Friday.

Walmsley, the top metre-maker in Super League in 2017, impressed from the bench in the 74-12 warm-up victory over Affiliated States at the weekend.

The 27-year-old prop has been named among the interchanges, along with St Helens team-mate James Roby, by head coach Wayne Bennett.

Man of Steel Luke Gale and Dally M half-back of the Year Gareth Widdop will be tasked with playmaking duties, while Sean O'Loughlin captains the side from loose forward.

"Preparation for this game has been going very well and our time in Perth was used to work on the things we highlighted from the Four Nations last year," said Bennett.

"The players have been working hard on and off the field to put themselves in a good position come Friday. We all know what's in front of us and they're well aware of what is expected of them.

"Alex and the rest of the squad all showed me how much they want to play for their country against Affiliated States. This is a very talented team who are keen to get this tournament started.

"We won't be worrying about the result against Australia, the focus will be on how we play, how we manage the opposition and making sure we compete for the full game."

The Group A match at AAMI Park will pit two of the favourites against one another, while New Zealand - the other main contenders for glory - face Samoa in a tricky first outing.

Parramatta Eels centre Brad Takairangi will make his debut, with coach David Kidwell naming four other previously uncapped players in his 21-man squad for the Group B fixture in Auckland.

Frank Pritchard featured for New Zealand at the previous World Cup but he will line up against them after being included in a powerful forward pack by Samoa.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS