Clubb joins England young guns v PNG
England have stuck with their policy of blooding young talent for their final match of the 2010 Four Nations with the selection of Tony Clubb at centre against Papua New Guinea in Auckland on Saturday night.
At 23, the Harlequins RL centre is the most senior player in Steve McNamara's back division and the England coach is looking forward to seeing the Londoner in action at Eden Park.
“Tony has been a fantastic tourist, I couldn’t have asked for more from him both on and off the field,” McNamara told England RL TV.
“He is enthusiastic in everything he does. Tony has been mentioned in selection meetings before this week and I’m confident he is ready to make his debut on Saturday.”
Clubb, who has made two previous appearances for England against Wales two years ago and France in 2009, replaces Ryan Atkins in a back line which also features Sam Tomkins, 21, at full-back, Ryan Hall, 23, and Tom Briscoe, 20, on the wings and Leroy Cudjoe, 22, at right centre.
England will start with Huddersfield duo Kevin Brown and Luke Robinson reprising their club partnership at half-back, a change which allows Sean O’Loughlin to move back into the pack from stand-off.
Two players who suffered slight knocks in the defeat against Australia last week were not considered for selection - Joel Tomkins (calf) and Darrell Goulding (knee).
“At a push we could have got Darrell and Joel out there this weekend but I am happy with the players I have brought in,” said McNamara, who is expecting a tough, physical test from the Kumuls.
“All the other changes have been made for tactical reasons. The Kumuls’ strength is their physicality and we need to be ready for that. We need to be smart as well.
“It is important that we put in an accomplished performance on Saturday. Had we been playing Australia or New Zealand this week there were areas that we need to improve up: the same applied for Papua New Guinea.
“We must continue to make progress in key areas as an international team.”
The England team to face Papua New Guinea at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday is as follows (professional and community clubs in brackets):
1 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
2 Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
3 Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome)
4 Tony Clubb (Harlequins RL, Greenwich Admirals)
5 Tom Briscoe (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
6 Kevin Brown (Huddersfield Giants, Thatto Heath)
7 Luke Robinson (Huddersfield Giants, Siddal)
8 James Graham (St Helens, Blackbrook) (capt)
9 James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
10 Sam Burgess (South Sydney, Dewsbury Moor)
11 Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers, Castleford Lock Lane)
12 Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)
13 Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
14 Darrell Griffin (Huddersfield Giants, Oxford Cavaliers)
15 Garreth Carvell (Warrington Wolves, Stanningley)
16 Ben Harrison (Warrington Wolves, Barrow Island)
17 Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm, King Cross)
Interviews with Steve McNamara and Papua New Guinea coach Stanley Gene previewing this weekend’s game can be seen by visiting www.englandrl.co.uk
England v Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations on Saturday November 6 will be screened live in the UK on Sky Sports 1 from 4.30am (5.00am kick off) with extended highlights shown on BBC1 at 2.15pm.