England coach Wayne Bennett has made just one enforced change to his side for Saturday’s second World Cup Group A game against Lebanon.
As expected, St Helens prop Alex Walmsley comes in to make his debut at Allianz Stadium after recovering from illness, taking over from the injured Sam Burgess.
Warrington second rower Ben Currie, who was a late addition to the side for the opening game against Australia in Melbourne last Friday which England lost 18-4, not only keeps his place in the match-day squad but will make his first start for his country, with Walmsley on the bench.
Burgess is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks with a medial knee ligament injury, returning for either the quarter-final on November 19 or the semi-final a week later.
Bennett said: “We were unfortunate to lose Sam early in the game against Australia but received some good news and we can now possibly get him back sooner than anticipated.”
He added: “Apart from Sam, everyone is fit, healthy and good to go against Lebanon. Friday’s result was disappointing but the players have shown they wanted to get straight back into it and we had a great day in hot temperatures on Monday.
“Alex was in the match-day squad last week and he was unlucky not to make the field. He’s feeling good again and I want to see what he can offer against Lebanon.”
It will be England’s first international against Lebanon, who are coached by former Australia international and New South Wales stand-off Brad Fittler. They won their first World Cup match, beating France 29-18 in Canberra, where half-back Mitchell Moses capped off a fine performance with 13 points.
Bennett said: “They’ve got NRL players in their squad and we know Brad will be getting the best out of them. They have got quality and we’re going to have to be good.”
England team: J Lomax (St Helens); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), K Watkins (Leeds), J Bateman (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), L Gale (Castleford); C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), B Currie (Warrington), E Whitehead (Canberra), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt).
Interchange: A Walmsley (St Helens), C Heighington (Cronulla), T Burgess (South Sydney), J Roby (St Helens). 18th man: G Williams (Wigan).