Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary fit to face Papua New Guinea

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Winger recovers from ankle injury at RL World Cup

Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary has been declared fit and retains his place in England’s side for the World Cup quarter-final against Papua New Guinea on Sunday.

The teams clash in Melbourne and 29-year-old McGillvary has recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the 36-6 group match win over France and will play.

He will be joined in the England starting line-up by forward Sam Burgess has recovered from knee ligament damage.

The 28-year-old was forced off in the first half of the team’s tournament-opening 18-4 defeat by Australia.

He was not expected to return before the semi-finals on November 24-25 – Burgess comes in for Cronulla forward Chris Heighington.

Gareth Widdop retains the full-back jersey as Jonny Lomax continues to struggle with a calf strain.

Hooker Josh Hodgson is recalled after being rested for the 36-6 win over France in England’s final group game. James Roby is on the bench.

Coach Wayne Bennett suggested Burgess – whose brother Tom is on the bench – may not take on his usual workload before a potential semi-final against either Tonga or Lebanon.

“Sam brings a lot but right now his priority is to play well and not worry about the team. The team has been playing well without him.

“If he is playing on the edge it is not as demanding physically as it is in the middle so he might be able to get through the whole game or he might not. It is not a real issue in the first half, it’s something for the second half.”

Papua New Guinea – unbeaten so far in the tournament after group wins over Wales, Ireland and the United States – include wing Garry Lo, who will move to Castleford from Sheffield Eagles next season.

However the 24-year-old is rated only as a “50-50” chance to make kick-off however according to assistant coach Marcus Bai as he struggles with an ankle injury.

Teenage stand-off Lachlan Lam, son of former Wigan and Papua New Guinea half-back Adrian Lam, has been left out despite scoring two tries on debut against the United States with Ase Boas stepping in.

England: Widdop; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Brown, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, S Burgess, Whitehead, O’Loughlin (capt). Interchange: Walmsley, T Burgess, Currie, Roby.

Papua New Guinea: Mead (capt); Olam, Ottio, Macdonald, Lo; A Boas, W Boas; Meninga, Segeyaro, Page, Martin, Minoga, Aiton. Interchange: Baptiste, Amean, Albert, Griffin.

Italy have been handed a suspended fine of £2,900 by World Cup officials over the incident in which team-mates James Tedesco and Shannon Wakeman came to blows.

The pair were involved in a fight after Italy’s opening World Cup defeat by Ireland in Cairns but shook hands and went on to play in their team’s next two matches.

However, the matter remained the subject of an investigation and the Italian Federation was found to be in breach of the tournament regulations.

A statement said: “The Rugby League World Cup 2017 has today sanctioned the Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL) following the completion of an investigation into an off-field incident involving Italian Rugby League players in Cairns during the tournament.

“RLWC2017 chief executive Andrew Hill said the FIRL was in breach of its obligations to the tournament and a 5000 suspended fine has been imposed.”

It may not be the end of the matter for a World Cup spokesman added that the details from the investigation will now be passed onto the Rugby League International Federation.

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