England V New Zealand - Preview

Stephen Wild and Jon Wilkin, both released from the Great Britain squad, will start for England against New Zealand on Sunday at Warrington. England, who beat France in their first match two weeks, have lost Leeds prop Danny Ward from their original squad.

Mark Gleeson (ankle) and Ade Gardner (knee) have also joined Ryan Bailey and Mike Bennett on the sidelines.

Salford wing David Hodgson and Wolves back row Ben Westwood have been drafted in to face the Kiwis.

New Zealand, who will be captained by Leeds second row Ali Lauitiiti, have called up his clubmate Willie Poching.

Former Kiwi schoolboy captain Poching, who led Samoa in the 2000 World Cup, is one of several English-based players brought in for the game at Warrington.

He joins Huddersfield half-back Robbie Paul, Bradford prop Joe Vagana and Warrington winger Henry Fa'afili.

They will be able to push for places in New Zealand's Tri-Nations squad in the event of injury.

"There is an opportunity in the squad, depending on what happens in this game and next week's game," said Kiwis technical adviser Graeme Norton, who is in charge of Sunday's side.

"There are three games left and no doors are closed.

"The result is very important to keep the momentum going. We are looking at it as a Test match and we're preparing for a Test match."

The tourists are now down to 22 players following the withdrawal of Bradford winger Lesley Vainikolo and the departure to France of scrum-half Stacey Jones.

Lance Hohaia, who has recovered from ankle ligament damage in the Tri-Nations opener, will be the short-term replacement for Jones, despite playing at hooker against Australia three weeks ago.

"Lance was outstanding in the first game against Australia and the roles are similar," said Norton.

"He has had quite a bit of intense physio over the last three weeks. He was probably right for a run last week."

Outstanding second rower Ali Lauitiiti will captain the New Zealand side that faces England on Sunday.

Lauitiiti has been in great form throughout the English Super League season and has already shown plenty of his leadership skills in the New Zealand camp.

Kiwis technical adviser Graeme Norton, who is coaching the New Zealand side this week, said he was impressed with Lauitiiti's performance as a leader within the team.

"Ali is very similar to Ruben Wiki, what he says is always straight from the heart and it contains value," he said.

"He leads by example but is always willing to listen and learn from others."

Norton's side includes four English-based Kiwis - Joe Vagana, Willie Poching, Henry Fa'afili and Robbie Paul - who joined the camp this week.

While Vagana, Fa'afili and Paul have all played for the Kiwis this game will be Poching's first in the black and white jersey.

"Willie has been a huge asset for the Leeds Rhinos in the past couple of seasons," Norton said.

"His experience and knowledge of the game coupled with his enthusiasm will add plenty to this side."

Norton said he was impressed with the attitude and willingness of all the players named in the squad to play England.

"We've trained well this week and I'm pretty happy with the preparation for the game," he said.

"The England side will be tough and we know we are in for a solid contest on Sunday."


England: R Mathers (Leeds); M Calderwood (Leeds), P Sykes (Harlequins), B Westwood (Warrington), D Hodgson (Salford); C Thorman (Huddersfield, capt), L Robinson (Salford); E Crabtree (Huddersfield), M Alker (Salford), P Wood (Warrington), S Wild (Wigan), L Radford (Bradford), J Wilkin (St Helens). Subs (from): S Reardon (Bradford), D Griffin (Wakefield), A Lynch (Bradford), C Charles (Salford), J Jones Buchanan (Leeds).

New Zealand: H Fa'afili (Warrington); J Webster (Melbourne), S Hape (Bradford), P Whatuira (Wests Tigers), M Vatuvei (NZ Warriors); Tony (Hull), L Hohaia (NZ Warriors); I Palea'aesina (NZ Warriors), D Faiumu (North Queensland), T Puletua (Penrith), A Lauitiiti (Leeds, capt), L Anderson (NZ Warriors), B Harrison (Wests Tigers). Subs: R Paul (Bradford), F Pritchard (Penrith), W Poching (Leeds), J Vagana (Bradford).

Referee: Jason Robinson (Australia).