Castleford’s Gale selected for England’s World Cup final team

Luke Gale in action at the Rugby League World Cup. Picture : NRL Photos/Gregg Porteous
Luke Gale in action at the Rugby League World Cup. Picture : NRL Photos/Gregg Porteous

Castleford Tigers star Luke Gale is preparing to play in the Rugby League World Cup final after being selected again at number seven for England when they take on Australia on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

Gale has played in every England game in the tournament and will be aiming to help England make history in their first final since 1995.

Sean O’Loughlin will once again lead the team, but hooker Josh Hodgson has been ruled out of the final with a knee injury.

James Roby moves into the starting hooker role and Chris Heighington returns to the bench after last playing against Lebanon in the group stage.

After making a big impact from interchange against Tonga, Thomas Burgess has retained his place in the squad and is set to make his 20th Test appearance for England on Saturday night. Burgess will receive a bronze lion on his playing jersey to mark this achievement.

England’s most capped player, James Graham, will take his total up to 39 at the weekend as the prop forward appears in his first World Cup final for his country.

Graham made his England debut back in 2008 and has featured in three World Cup tournaments (2008, 2013 and 2017) for the national side.

England head coach Wayne Bennett, said: “We’ve got a special group of men here who have worked hard for one another and have been rewarded with a place in the final.

“Our efforts in defence against Tonga showed me how much they wanted to be here in this final week. The desire and commitment was clear to see.

“Australia are unbeaten in this tournament and it’s no secret that they are going into this game as favourites. They’re playing some good football at the moment.

“Preparation in Brisbane is going well for us – a mixture of training and recovery will ensure the squad are ready to do their best for the team, their family, their friends and the whole country on Saturday.”

England 21-man squad to play Australia:

Gareth Widdop

Jermaine McGillvary

Kallum Watkins

John Bateman

Ryan Hall

Kevin Brown

Luke Gale

Chris Hill

James Roby

James Graham

Sam Burgess

Elliott Whitehead

Sean O’Loughlin ©

Alex Walmsley

Thomas Burgess

Ben Currie

Chris Heighington

Jonny Lomax

Scott Taylor

George Williams

Mark Percival