England kick off Rugby League World Cup against Samoa


The 2021 Rugby League World Cup is finally here as the hosts, England, get the proceedings started with a highly anticipated clash against Samoa.

With the opener kicking over at Newcastle’s St James’ Park in front of at least 40,000 rugby league fans, it promises to be an exciting afternoon which Shaun Wane will be hoping sees his England side get off on the right foot.

Wane will be hoping to go one step further than he managed back in 2017 as England were beaten by Australia in the final 6-0.

But with what feels like a much stronger squad than England have had for a while with real depth, there’s a promising and exciting feel around this England side.

Samoa will be no push over mind. Coming into the tournament as one of the teams to watch along with the likes of Tonga. A number of players choosing to represent Samoa over the likes of Australia meaning Samoa now boast one of the strongest squads in the competition and have registered themselves as genuine contenders despite now playing an international since 2019.

The likes of Brian To’o, Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Josh Papali’I were all eligible for the champions but have instead chosen to play for Samoa in a team that now has six of the title winning Penrith Panthers squad within their ranks as well as two from the NRL Grand-Final runners up in the Parramatta Eels.

So a squad littered with NRL quality is surely going to be a tough ask.

Samoa Head Coach Matt Parish insisted England have an advantage due to their warm-up game against Fiji whilst the Samoa squad was still on a plane. But with the quality Samoa have, that factor might not even matter come Saturday afternoon and the North-East atmosphere comes to life.

As far as the 19-man squads go, there was a couple of surprises from Shaun Wane but it’s unclear as to whether the shock inclusions or exclusions were forced upon as Wane did speak about carrying a couple of niggles. There’s no Andy Ackers in the squad despite scoring on his England debut against Fiji and Dom Young was preferred to Ryan Hall in Wane’s first selection of the tournament.

Your respective 19-man squads are as follows:

England 19-man squad: 1 Sam Tomkins, 2 Tommy Makinson, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 Herbie Farnworth, 6 Jack Welsby, 7 George Williams 8 Tom Burgess, 9 Michael McIlorum, 10 Luke Thompson, 11 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Victor Radley, 14 Dom Young, 15 Morgan Knowles, 16 Matty Lees, 17 Mike Cooper, 18 Chris Hill, 20 Mike McMeeken, 21 Marc Sneyd, 24 Kai Pearce-Paul.

Samoa 19-man squad: 1 Joseph Suaalii, 4 Stephen Crichton, 5 Brian To’o, 6 Jarome Luai, 7 Anthony Milford, 8 Josh Papalii, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Junior Paulo, 12 Jayden Su’a, 13 Josh Aloiai, 14 Tyrone May, 16 Spencer Leniu, 17 Martin Taupa’u, 18 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, 20 Chanel Harris-Tavita, 22 Kelma Tuilagi, 23 Oregon Kaufusi, 24 Braden Hamlin-Uele.

With every game within the tournament as well as the women’s and wheelchair world cup respectively being shown live on BBC, England get the proceedings off to a start with kick off at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon.

It’s a nice early test in Group A for England, but win, and it’s an early statement which may take off a little bit of pressure being a host nation expected to impress.

There’s NRL and Super League quality throughout this England squad and for a number of the lads in white shirts, it’s about making their opportunity count.

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