Castleford’s McMeeken and Gale in England team to meet France

Castleford's Mike McMeeken
Castleford's Mike McMeeken

Castleford Tigers forward Mike McMeeken is set to make his World Cup debut after being named in England’s starting line-up for their third group game against France this Sunday.

England head coach Wayne Bennett has rung the changes for the game at Perth’s nib Stadium with St Helens centre Mark Percival, Warrington stand-off Kevin Brown and Hull prop Scott Taylor also coming in for their first game.

Leeds backs Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins are rested, along with Canberra back rower Elliott Whitehead and Cronulla forward Chris Heighington are rested, but Castleford half-back Luke Gale retains his place.

Gareth Widdop is switched from stand-off to full-back, with Stefan Ratchford moving to the left wing. Huddersfield right winger Jermaine McGillvary has been named, but faces a disciplinary hearing for a biting allegation.

Bennett said: “I was pleased with the win against Lebanon but I’m looking for a better performance this week.

“We lost our way in the second half in the last game and that’s something we’ll be looking to improve on.

“We know what we’re capable of so we’ll be aiming to put things right by Sunday.

“We’re off the mark now in this tournament and building each week. I know France have lost their first two games but that won’t alter the way we go into this one – they’re a strong side with some talented guys who can play.

“They’ll be doing everything they can to get a win in this group so we’ll have to be at our best.”

England team: G Widdop (St George Illawarra); S Ratchford (Warrington), M Percival (St Helens), J Bateman (Wigan), J McGillvary (Huddersfield); K Brown (Warrington), L Gale (Castleford); C Hill (Warrington), J Roby (St Helens), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), B Currie (Warrington), M McMeeken (Castleford), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt). Substitutes: A Walmsley (St Helens), T Burgess (South Sydney), S Taylor (Hull), G Williams (Wigan).