Rugby League World Cup 2013: Selection battle fierce - O'Loughlin

By Paul FletcherBBC Sport
Rugby League World Cup 2013 Highlights: England 34-12 Fiji

England loose forward Sean O'Loughlin said competition for places was intense in the squad ahead of Saturday's World Cup quarter-final.

Steve McNamara made four changes to his squad of 17 for the 34-12 win over Fiji at the KC Stadium in Hull.

"We are in good shape - there is a lot of competition for spots," said O'Loughlin. "Nobody feels comfortable that they are going to be in the team.

"Steve has got a few tough decisions to make ahead of next weekend."

Sam Burgess, Michael McIlorum, Rob Burrow and Liam Farrell all came into the 17, with Thomas Burgess, James Roby, Gareth Widdop and Carl Ablett making way.

The win over Fiji ensured that England finished second in Group A and they will now play either Samoa or France in Wigan for a place in the last four.

O'Loughlin, whose previous two appearances ahead of the World Cup came in the Challenge Cup final and Grand Final, missed the opening match against Australia as he recovered from an Achilles injury.

But he returned for the 42-0 win over Ireland and retained his place against Fiji.

"There is a lot of pressure on us to play well and that is a good position to be in," added O'Loughlin.

Rob Burrow impressed after coming off the interchange bench as he made his first appearance of the tournament.

His speed around the ruck caused problems for the tiring Fijian pack and he has put himself in contention for a place next weekend.

"Rob has done a great job," said McNamara.

"He has had to be very patient but he probably came on the field at the right time when we started to create some momentum and get some quick play-the-balls.

"There is no better player, probably on either side of the world, on the back of that in terms of the speed that he can create."

Both Burrow and skipper Kevin Sinfield suffered head injuries during what was a very physical encounter but McNamara is confident that both will be fit for next week.

"They'll have to pass the mandatory tests, but they both seem fine, touch wood," added the coach.

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