Bateman to start at centre for England as Bennett names squad to face Australia

John Bateman will start at centre for England in Friday’s World Cup opener against Australia.

He has been chosen over St Helens’ centre Marc Percival who has been named in the squad, but is outside the first 17.

Stefan Ratchford, Mike McMeeken and George Williams have been left out of the 21-man squad by Wayne Bennett for the game in Melbourne.

Alex Walmsley, who impressed during the 74-12 win against the Combined Affiliated States, will make his competitive England debut off the bench.

“The thing for us will be whether we make unforced errors under pressure, which we did last time we played them – there’s nothing else we have to fear,” said Bennett.

“We match them in a lot of areas and if we can match them in the areas of discipline and unforced errors, that will be our best chance of doing anything.”

Opponents Australia will have three debutants in their ranks with winger Dane Gagai and forwards Wade Graham and Jordan McLean included in Mal Meninga’s 17.

“This is obviously a very important game in the context of the Rugby League World Cup and this squad of players reflects that,” said Meninga.

“Dane had a tremendous State of Origin series and deserves to play for the Kangaroos and it will be great to see him in the green and gold.

“Wade offers enormous impact for us while Jordan had a wonderful season for the Storm. Jordan was also extremely strong in the pre-tournament exhibition against Fiji and PNG.”

ENGLAND

1   Jonny LOMAX
2   Jermaine MCGILLVARY
3   Kallum WATKINS
4   John BATEMAN
5  Ryan HALL
6   Gareth WIDDOP
7   Luke GALE
8   Chris HILL
9   Josh HODGSON
10  James GRAHAM
11  Sam BURGESS
12  Elliott WHITEHEAD
13  Sean O’LOUGHLIN (c)
14  Alex WALMSLEY
15  Chris HEIGHINGTON
16  Thomas BURGESS
17  James ROBY

18  Ben CURRIE
19  Kevin BROWN
20  Mark PERCIVAL
21  Scott TAYLOR

AUSTRALIA

1   Billy SLATER
2   Dane GAGAI
3   William CHAMBERS
4   Joshua DUGAN
5   Valentine HOLMES
6   Michael MORGAN
7   Cooper CRONK
8   Aaron WOODS
9   Cameron SMITH (c)
10  David KLEMMER
11  Boyd CORDNER
12  Matt GILLETT
13  Jake TRBOJEVIC
14  Wade GRAHAM
15  Jordan MCLEAN
16  Joshua MCGUIRE
17  Tyson FRIZELL

18  Reagan CAMPBELL-GILLARD
19  Ben HUNT
20  Tom TRBOJEVIC
21  Felise KAUFUSI