The Newsroom previews round two of the Four Nations Tournament.
England v Scotland
England and Scotland will face off this weekend for the first time in what is a must-win game for England if they want to make the final.
England coach Wayne Bennett has shockingly dropped star playmaker Gareth Widdop for this clash. George Williams will come into the 17 to replace Widdop and will combine with halfback Luke Gale, who keeps his spot even though he struggled against the Kiwis last week. James Graham also misses out this weekend due to a knee injury and is replaced by Liam Farrell.
Scotland’s tournament debut started with a heavy loss to Australia and this weekend will be another tough task for the minnows. The Bravehearts have dropped several players for the game, with Ryan Brierley, Sheldon Powe-Hobbs, and Billy McConnachie missing out. Frankie Mariano and Tyler Cassel join the 19-man squad.
Australian Kangaroos v New Zealand Kiwis
Australia and New Zealand will face-off this weekend in what many have described as a preview of the final. Both teams are coming off wins and are looking to continue that momentum through the tournament.
Australia has made a host of changes to their team as they welcome back Johnathan Thurston, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Boyd Cordner, Matt Scott, Matt Gillett and Valentine Holmes in their 19-man squad. Matt Moylan, Jake Friend, James Maloney, and Justin O’Neill all kept their spots after impressing on debut last week. Australian coach Mal Meninga has surprisingly rested halfback Cooper Cronk for their game against New Zealand. Josh Mansour will miss the remaining of the tournament after injuring his ACL at training earlier this week.
The Kiwis have been forced to make two changes to their side that beat England last week. Jason Nightingale has been ruled out with an ankle injury and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves with a knee issue. Gerard Beale has replaced Nightingale on the wing and Adam Blair has been promoted off the bench to the starting side for Waerea-Hargreaves and Greg Eastwood will join the bench.
New Zealand’s star playmaker Shaun Johnson and Australia’s Johnathan Thurston are the players to watch. Johnson had plenty of room to run against England last week and Australia must shut his space down. Thurston is a living legend of the game and without usual halves partner Cronk will take on a lot more responsibility and look to dominate in attack. – Paul Burns
Photo of Sam Burgess leading his team out from the England RL Facebook page.