England make changes for semi

England coach Steve McNamara has made two changes to the 19-man squad that faced France ahead of the World Cup semi-final with New Zealand on Saturday (England 2/1, Draw 22/1, New Zealand 2/5 Match Betting).

Melbourne Storm half-back Gareth Widdop and Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett are the two alterations from the quarter-final win over the French.

The duo replace Castleford Tigers half-back Rangi Chase and Wigan Warriors hooker Michael McIlorum, and will fight for a place in McNamara’s matchday 17 for the Wembley semi-final.

Widdop was a part of the England (8/1 World Cup winners) side that thrashed Ireland 42-0 in the group stages but he has not featured since.

That match was the last time Ablett played, having also featured in the 20-28 defeat against Australia (1/3 World Cup winners) in October.

McNamara insists his selection is the best available to face New Zealand and says his side are looking good in the build-up to the match.

“As with every week, the squad is picked with not only the opposition in mind but the best combinations for ourselves,” said McNamara.

“We have had a great week with our preparation and the players are ready to take on the world champions in what I believe is the biggest game we have been involved in since the Rugby League World Cup semi-final back in 2008.”

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