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Page last updated at 09:00 GMT, Thursday, 21 October 2010 10:00 UK

England's Sam Tomkins fit to face New Zealand

Four Nations - New Zealand v England
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington Date: Sat, 23 October Kick-off: 0800 BST
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC One and BBC Sport website from 0730 BST, with live coverage on BBC 5 live sports extra from 0800
Highlights: BBC Sport website and iPlayer


Skipper Graham issues challenge to new boys

By Dave Woods
BBC Sport in New Zealand

England stand-off Sam Tomkins has been cleared to play in Saturday's Four Nations opener against New Zealand.

Tomkins had been an injury doubt after damaging his pelvis in a warm-up game against the New Zealand Maori but he will partner Kevin Brown in the halves.

His Wigan team-mate Darrell Goulding is set to make his international debut.

In the forwards, new skipper James Graham and Stuart Fielden, returning to the international stage for the first time in four years, start at prop.

Graham is England's third captain this year following injuries to Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley ruled them out of the Four Nations tournament.

However, 25-year-old Graham is confident his side have the strength in depth to cope with their losses.


"JP [Peacock] and Moz [Morley] are going to be a loss to any side but that's gone now, there's nothing we can do about it," said the St Helens forward.

"The other boys have got to step up. We've got some experience there any way. I think you saw a perfect example with Benny Westwood at the weekend when we lost Moz.

"He's a back rower but he stepped up to prop and the way he carried the ball was tremendous. He was outstanding.

"When you lose certain players who are held in high regard, some players step up that extra five and 10% and they reap the rewards of that."

Fielden admitted to having itchy feet as he sat out last Saturday's 18-18 draw against the Maori after he arrived four days later than the rest of the squad in order to attend the birth of his first child.

England coach Steve McNamara said: "He's pretty fresh and pretty keen. As always, he's very enthusiastic."

And on Tomkins, McNamara added: "He's good. He came through practise [on Wednesday] and there is no reaction.

New Zealand 'not taking England lightly'

"He's looking forward to the game. He's a highly-competitive person as we all know and he was adamant he wouldn't miss this one."

With the exception of Ryan Hall, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, England's backs line up as they did on Saturday.

Rookie Melbourne full-back Gareth Widdop is again handed the number one shirt and he will also take on the goal-kicking duties.

The four man bench includes Huddersfield pair Darrell Griffin and Luke Robinson along with Joel Tomkins and Ben Westwood.

England: Widdop (Melbourne); Goulding (Wigan) Shenton (Castelford) Atkins (Warrinton) Briscoe (Hull); Brown (Huddersfield), S Tomkins (Wigan); Graham (St Helens, capt) Roby (St Helens), Fielden (Wigan), Burgess (South Sydney) Ellis (Wests Tigers) O'Loughlin (Wigan).
Interchange: Griffin (Huddersfield) Westwood (Warrington) J Tomkins (Wigan) Robinson (Huddersfield)

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see also
Fresh doubts over Tomkins fitness
20 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Hooker Leuluai named in Kiwi side
20 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Graham named as England captain
18 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Hayne ruled out of Four Nations
18 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Morley ruled out of Four Nations
17 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
New Zealand Maori 18-18 England
16 Oct 10 |  Rugby League

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