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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Tomkins handed start by England

FOUR NATIONS: ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan Date: Saturday, 31 October Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC One and BBC Sport website from 1410 GMT; Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Sport website


Sam Tomkins
Tomkins is Super League's young player of the year

England have brought in Sam Tomkins and Eorl Crabtree for Saturday's Four Nations clash with Australia in Wigan.

Wigan half-back Tomkins, Super League's young player of the year, comes in for Richie Myler, while Huddersfield front-rower Crabtree replaces Scott Moore.

"Richie's got a bit of a head knock but Sam was going to get a chance this week," England boss Tony Smith said.

Australia coach Tim Sheens has recalled back-rower Nathan Hindmarsh after two years on the sidelines.

Prop David Shillington, hooker Robbie Farah and second-rower Luke Lewis are all poised to make their debuts.

Forwards Ryan Hoffman and Sam Thaiday pay the price following a 20-20 draw with New Zealand last weekend.

Smith, whose side began with a 34-12 win over France, explained that Myler was still in the running to face New Zealand in the next game.

"It gives us a chance to compare the two and decide which way we go for the final week. I've got lot of faith in both those young men but it's Sam's go this week," he said.

And the coach expects Australia to target the 20-year-old on Saturday.

"I'm sure the Aussies will have a crack at him this weekend," said Smith. "But from what I've seen of the young man, he is able to step up and take most of what is thrown at him. He has more good days than bad days.

"He's got some unpredictability about him. He's willing to have a go. There are a lot of players in our team like that.

"He's got some off-the-cuff play that suits him. Along with the pack of forwards, we think that will be a good mix this week."

Tomkins deserves Aussie chance - Smith

With Moore dropped, James Roby switches to hooker and skipper Jamie Peacock moves to the second row to accommodate prop James Graham in the starting line-up.

"We've got a big pack and we consider that as part of our strength," added Smith.

Australia coach Sheens hands Hindmarsh his 21st cap two years after his last representative honour, while Lewis was part of the 2003 tour of England but did not play a Test.

Farah withdrew from Lebanon's squad for last year's World Cup qualifiers in order to press his Kangaroo claims.

Australia match is the 'pinnacle' - Peacock

Australia cannot afford to lose against England if they are to remain in the hunt for a place in the final on 14 November, but hooker Cameron Smith believes captain Darren Lockyer can be the match-winner for the Kangaroos.

"When the big games come, he usually shines and he gets the best out of his team-mates," said Smith.

Lockyer, 32, broke Mal Meninga's record as Australia's most-capped player against the Kiwis and on Saturday he will match the feat of another legend, Clive Churchill, who captained the Kangaroos 27 times in the 1940s and 1950s.

Although England have fared second-best to the Kangaroos in recent times, St Helens hooker Roby believes a healthy new team spirit can carry the home side to victory.

A split between Leeds and Saints was cited as one of the reasons for England's poor performances in the World Cup but Roby insists the mood in the camp could not be better ahead of the game.

606: DEBATE
BBC Radio 5 Live's George Riley

"There's a great team spirit," said Roby. "Training has been really good and intense and everybody seems to be having fun.

"We're having a good laugh. A lot of the lads knew each other from the mid-season Test against France and there is a good banter going on.

"If we turn up on the day and play like we've practised, we're capable of beating anyone. There is no reason why we can't go on and win this tournament."

In the build-up to Saturday's game, Australia refused the chance of a neutral referee for the game, so English official Steve Ganson, who officiated Australia's draw with New Zealand, will now take charge.

Meanwhile, France have been given dispensation to delay naming their team to face New Zealand in the Gillette Four Nations in Toulouse on Saturday after being hit by injury, illness and suspension.

Presented with just 16 fit players for training earlier this week, coach Bobbie Goulding drafted in New Zealand-born forwards Artie Shead and Andrew Bentley and has named a provisional 19-man squad.


England: S Briscoe; T Briscoe, Smith, Shenton, Hall; McGuire, Tomkins; Morley, Roby, Graham, Ellis, Peacock (capt), Sinfield.
Replacements: Burgess, Crabtree, Eastmond, Westwood.

Australia: Slater; B Morris, Inglis, Hodges, Hayne; Lockyer (capt), Thurston; Civoniceva, Smith, Hannant, Watmough, Gallen, Hindmarsh.
Replacements (from): Farah, White, Lewis, Shillington, Waterhouse, Gidley.



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see also
Closing the gap?
29 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Highlights - Australia 20-20 New Zealand
25 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Highlights - England 34-12 France
25 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Australia 20-20 New Zealand
24 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
England 34-12 France
23 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Coach Smith blames England nerves
23 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
England potential excites Smith
21 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
O'Loughlin to miss Four Nations
20 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Peacock says England must deliver
19 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Four Nations fixtures and results
14 Nov 09 |  Rugby League


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