Epic clash between arch-rivals set for first game of the tournament.
Where: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
When: 14.30 (GMT)
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In what is a fitting way to start the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, long time adversaries Australia will look to begin their tilt for the title with a bang as they square off against England in Cardiff.
Australia open their bid for a 10th World Cup crown against England on Saturday in the knowledge that victory would go a long way to avoiding defending champions New Zealand in the knock-out phases.
The Kiwis romped to a 34-20 victory over the Kangaroos at the last World Cup in 2008, but the two teams have been drawn in opposing pools for the October 26-November 30 tournament.
Australia coach Tim Sheens has plumped for experience in his 19-strong squad for the 14-nation tournament’s opening match against arch-rivals England at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, where the roof will be closed.
“We’ve got, hopefully, every scenario covered in this first game,” Sheens said.
All five squad survivors from 2008 – hooker and captain Cameron Smith, full-back Billy Slater, half-back Johnathan Thurston, centre Greg Inglis and loose-forward Paul Gallen – were named as starters, alongside veteran centre Brent Tate.
“Winning (against England) doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the final and losing it doesn’t mean you won’t make the final, but it’s about getting away to a good, confident start and I think that’s important for us,” Sheens said.
The Burgess brothers will make history by becoming the first trio of brothers to be chosen for the England rugby league side.
Beefy forwards Sam, 24, and 21-year-old twins Tom and George, who all play for the Russell Crowe co-owned South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, were named in England’s 19-man team to take on the Kangaroos.
With elder brother Luke, the quartet this season entered Australian rugby league folklore as the first set of four brothers to play in the same top-level side for more than a century.
Australia v England squads
Billy Slater; Brett Morris, Brent Tate, Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd; Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk; Matthew Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), James Tamou; Greg Bird, Sam Thaidy; Paul Gallen
Interchange: Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Luke Lewis, Corey Parker, Jarryd Hayne, Nate Miles
Carl Ablett, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Rob Burrow, Josh Charnley, Rangi Chase, Leroy Cudjoe, Liam Farrell, Brett Ferres, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Lee Mossop, James Roby, Kevin Sinfield (capt), Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins, Ben Westwood, Gareth Widdop
Referee: Henry Perenara (NZL)