International Series 2015: England v New Zealand (Sun)

Sean O'Loughlin and Issac Luke
Sean O'Loughlin and Issac Luke will compete for the Baskerville Shield.
England v New Zealand Test series
BBC TV coverage: First Test - Sunday 1 Nov, 16:45-19:00 GMT on BBC Two; Second Test - Saturday 7 Nov, 14:00-16:30 GMT on BBC One; Third Test - Saturday 14 Nov, 12:45-15:00 GMT on BBC One.

England have named an unchanged 19-man squad from the 84-4 friendly win against France last Saturday, after Sam Tomkins was ruled out of the series.

Tomkins, who has spent two seasons at New Zealand Warriors, will take no part after aggravating a knee injury.

The absence of captain Simon Mannering, winger Manu Vatuvei, enforcer Jared Wharea-Hargreaves and Jason Taumalolo will be keenly felt by New Zealand.

The tourists are also missing half-backs Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson.

England (from): J Bateman (Wigan), J Burgess (Wigan), T Burgess (South Sydney), M Cooper (St George Illawarra), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), L Farrell (Wigan), B Ferres (Huddersfield), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), R Hall (Leeds), Z Hardaker (Leeds), C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), S O'Loughlin (Wigan, capt); J Roby (St Helens), K Watkins (Leeds), B Westwood (Warrington), E Whitehead (Catalans Dragons), G Widdop (St George-Illawarra), G Williams (Wigan).

New Zealand (from): R Tuivasa-Sheck (NZ Warriors), J Nightingale (St George Dragons), J Kahu (Brisbane Broncos), D Whare (Penrith), S Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), P Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), T Lolohea (NZ Warriors), J Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), I Luke (NZ Warriors co-capt), S Moa (Sydney Roosters), K Proctor (Melbourne Storm), T Harris (Melbourne Storm), A Blair (Brisbane Broncos co-capt); K Nikorima (Brisbane Broncos), M Taupau (Manly Sea Eagles), B Matulino (NZ Warriors), S Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters), A Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), L Brown (Penrith Panthers).

England and New Zealand rugby league
Sam Tomkins, distraught after Four Nations defeat, misses out through injury.

Key players to watch

John Bateman
Has switched from centre to back-row with ease at Wigan, is brilliant defensively and has shown attacking awareness too to pop up with tries for club and on his international debut.
Gareth Widdop.
It takes something for a non-Australian to be the go-to man at an NRL club, but Widdop has done just that at the St George-Illawarra Dragons with his organisation and prolific kicking and will be crucial for England.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
RTS, as he is sometimes known, is an elastic-limbed speed-machine whose footwork will be a real threat to the England defence, as will his combination with former Sydney Roosters' team-mate Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
Marty Taupau
Blockbusting forward who was a real threat in 2015 with Wests, and who backs down to no-one, as big Kangaroo Sam Thaiday found out in the Kiwis' Anzac Test win. Powerful with good skill-set.

Recent meetings

The last time a touring New Zealand side came to these shores in 2007, they were whitewashed 3-0 by a Great Britain side enjoying a swansong under Tony Smith, and featuring a young Sam Burgess.

England beat the Kiwis at Hull in the 2011 Four Nations, a lucky venue in recent times, but Stephen Kearney's side gained revenge at Wembley in the 2013 World Cup semi-finals with a heart-breaking late score from Shaun Johnson to edge the tie.

New Zealand won the 2014 Four Nations, beating England en route but Steve McNamara's side were again well in the contest and with three tries apiece only the accuracy of the goal-kicking separated the two teams at the end of 80 minutes.

England v New Zealand last five meetings
8 November 2014Four Nations 2014New Zealand 16-14 England
23 November 20132013 World Cup semi-finalNew Zealand 20-18 England
12 November 2011Four Nations 2011England 28-6 New Zealand
23 October 2010Four Nations 2010New Zealand 24-10 England
7 November 2009Four Nations 2009England 20-12 New Zealand

What can we expect?

Kearney's Kiwis are currently ranked number one in the world on the back of their Four Nations and Anzac Test wins against Australia.

However he is without several key names, playmakers Johnson and Foran, prop Waerea-Hargreaves, wing Vatuvei and captain Mannering.

There are still plenty of threats as the friendly win against Leeds showed, but England might never have a better chance of beating the Kiwis, particularly with a near-full strength squad of their own and a strong complement of NRL-based players available.

The loss of Tomkins is a blow, but it also saves McNamara the selection quandary of moving 2015 Man of Steel Zak Hardaker away from his regular full-back spot after a spectacular season.

Hull's special links with the Kiwis

Stephen Kearney
Stephen Kearney won the 2005 Challenge Cup with Hull FC against Leeds Rhinos.

The city of Kingston-upon-Hull has had a long association with the New Zealand rugby league side, stretching back to the days of Gary Kemble, James Leuluai, Dane O'Hara and Fred Ah Kuoi at Hull FC in the 1980s.

Current Kiwis boss Kearney also played for the Airlie Birds, as did prop Sam Moa before his return to the NRL with Sydney Roosters, where England boss McNamara - born in Hull and a former FC player - is assistant coach.

New ground for rugby league

Olympic Stadium in Stratford
Rugby union has already been staged at the Olympic Stadium, this will be league's bow there.

Having already staged the Olympics and a Rugby Union World Cup game, rugby league now makes its mark at the new Olympic Stadium.

League already has a long-standing association in London, notably with Wembley in the shape of the Challenge Cup final and numerous Test matches, while the game was also played at the old White City Stadium.

The second Test will be staged there on Saturday, 7 November, the third and final game at Wigan's DW Stadium on 14 November.

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