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Prop Fa'asavalu out of World Cup

Maurie Fa'asavalu
Fa'asavalu is one of only four specialist front rowers in the England squad

Maurie Fa'asavalu will play no further part in England's World Cup campaign because of a hand injury.

The prop fractured a finger on his right hand during the 52-4 defeat by Australia and was already out of the final pool game against New Zealand.

But under tournament rules, coach Tony Smith cannot call up a replacement at this stage, which leaves England with three specialist props in the squad.

Jon Wilkin is also ruled out of the Kiwi clash because of facial bruising.

However, the St Helens forward is expected to recover in time for England's likely semi-final match-up against New Zealand next week.

Smith had suggested Fa'asavalu, 28, could play on depending on the type of bone fracture, but a visit to a specialist hand surgeon ruled out any further participation in the tournament.

Smith has opted to rest Saints front-rower James Graham for the final Pool 1 match in Newcastle on Sunday, with his two remaining specialist Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley likely to start against the Kiwis.

Scrum-half Rob Burrow and winger Lee Smith are both set to return at the EnergyAustralia Stadium.


Burrow has recovered from an eye injury while Smith returns from his foot complaint.

Stand-off Leon Pryce is the other injury doubt, but Danny McGuire has avoided punishment after his spear tackle on Australian Greg Inglis.

Saturday's match is almost certainly a dress rehearsal for the first semi-final in Brisbane on 15 November - unless Papua New Guinea spring a surprise and defeat defending champions Australia on Sunday.

Smith will monitor the fitness of Pryce over the next couple of days and said: "If he's fine we will play him. If he's not, we won't risk him.

"We would love him in great form and hopefully he can find that form really soon. He probably hasn't had the best of the last few games but I am sure with a bit of confidence he will get back on top. He's very determined to get back to his best."

We have to consider whether to add some fresh people in there to freshen things up

England coach Tony Smith
Smith, who lost his 100% record as England coach with the mauling by the Australians, said: "The boys are hurting. We are all hurting and that's natural when you are up against your arch enemy and you don't play as well as you can.

"You should feel that way but we will be fine by the weekend.

"Fortunately, it's a quick turnaround. We have to get into it quickly and make sure we are fully prepared for the weekend."

England's players had to report for training early on Monday morning to analyse the Australia game before they flew to Newcastle to prepare for the next match.

"It was an interesting review," said Smith, who is expected to make several changes to his side. "We only missed 19 tackles against a great team like Australia.

"We're watching the players in training and we're watching their reactions.

"We've got some ideas but we don't want to make decisions straight away. We're considering some things and we want to see who has reacted well.

"We have to consider whether to add some fresh people in there to freshen things up."

There is a lot of hunger and determination to go out and perform

Kevin Sinfield

Leeds duo Kevin Sinfield and Gareth Ellis hope Smith gives the players who were humbled by Australia the chance to make amends.

"I think the whole squad want to play," said Sinfield. "There is a lot of hunger and determination to go out and perform. We'll have to see what happens.

"We'll get better and better as the tournament goes on. Hopefully we can fix some more things up for this weekend and put in a great performance and look to build on that."

Ellis admits Saturday's "dead rubber" presents an opportunity for Smith to rest some players but says he is he keen to get back out on the pitch as soon as possible.

"Without a doubt," he said. "If we had won comfortably over the last couple of weeks, maybe so but the most important thing now is to get a win and get a good performance and build some momentum."

Rugby League World Cup : Group A Table
09 November 2008 10:42
  Team P PD PTS
1 Australia 3 112 6
2 New Zealand 3 30 4
3 England 3 -50 2
4 Papua New Guinea 3 -92 0

Rugby League World Cup : Group B Table
05 November 2008 12:59
  Team P PD PTS
1 Fiji 2 34 2
2 Scotland 2 -16 2
3 France 2 -18 2

Rugby League World Cup : Group C Table
05 November 2008 09:52
  Team P PD PTS
1 Ireland 2 16 2
2 Tonga 2 -6 2
3 Samoa 2 -10 2

see also
Graham and Roby rested by England
05 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Chastened Smith refuses to panic
03 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Smith left humbled by record loss
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 52-4 England
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia v England as it happened
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 30-6 New Zealand
26 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
England 32-22 Papua New Guinea
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby League

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