Rugby League World Cup 2013: McNamara firm over Chase

World Cup semi-final - New Zealand v England

  • Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
  • Date: Saturday 23 November
  • Kick-off: 13:00 GMT

Coverage: Live on BBC TV, online, mobile and Connected TV. Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website, mobiles & app

England coach Steve McNamara has defended his decision to replace Rangi Chase with Gareth Widdop for the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

Salford half-back Chase, who had started all four of England's games at the tournament, has lost his squad place to Melbourne stand-off Widdop.

Saturday's Wembley clash will be a repeat of the 2008 semi-final, which the Kiwis won 32-22 in Brisbane.

"Gareth's ideal for the game we want to play this week," McNamara said.

"He's certainly right for this group, this week, against this opposition."

McNamara indicated that Chase, 27, failed to make enough of an impact as England beat France 34-6 in last Saturday's quarter-final at Wigan's DW Stadium - adding that the New Zealand-born half-back had been given time away from the squad to deal with the disappointment.

Chase asked for time off - McNamara

"He wasn't selected this week, he's asked for some time at home, which I was happy to grant so he's back at home with his family," the coach said.

"We'll let him have the weekend at home, and then when we get back into camp next week, all things being well, he'll be with us.

"Each time you pick an international team, it's tough. It's based on what I think is right for the team this week going into this game, the way we want to play this game, and based a little bit on performance - certainly [from] last week.

"There's no issue whatsoever for me with him [Chase]. He wasn't picked. People deal with that in different ways."

Widdop has had to battle back to fitness after dislocating his hip while playing for Melbourne Storm in the NRL in June.

McNamara added: "Gareth's only 24, a great player now and a great prospect for us moving forward for the international team.

"He's done remarkably well to overcome the injury he's sustained."

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney says the intensity in training has increased this week in preparation for the game.

The defending champions have won all four games this tournament, with a 186-38 aggregate scoreline in their favour.

Analysis

"There are players who we like to call world class but, for me, there is a category above that - what I like to call the generational players. On Saturday, I think there will be one in each forward pack - England's Sam Burgess and Kiwi Sonny Bill Williams."

"We made the group well aware of the challenge we face and what England will present us with," Kearney said.

"We needed to lift our intensity and it's been like that. It's been a bit scary watching."

New Zealand have beaten Papua New Guinea, France, Samoa and Scotland with ease on their way to the last four.

Kearney, though, would not go as far as to say his men had not been tested in this World Cup.

"We have got to deal with the opposition in front of us. I think they've been physical contests," added the 41-year-old ahead of the Wembley clash.

New Zealand have brought in Alex Glenn and Jason Nightingale to replace injured duo Frank Pritchard and Manu Vatuvei.

Tournament organisers have labelled Saturday's double-header as "The Big Hit", with Australia also taking on Fiji at Wembley and more than 70,000 spectators expected to attend.

England squad: C Ablett (Leeds), G Burgess (South Sydney), S Burgess (South Sydney), R Burrow (Leeds), J Charnley (Wigan), L Cudjoe (Huddersfield), L Farrell (Wigan), B Ferres (Huddersfield), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), R Hall (Leeds), C Hill (Warrington), L Mossop (Wigan), S O'Loughlin (Wigan), J Roby (St Helens), K Sinfield (Leeds, capt), S Tomkins (Wigan), K Watkins (Leeds), B Westwood (Warrington), G Widdop (Melbourne).

New Zealand squad: J Bromwich (Melbourne), K Foran (Manly), A Glenn (Brisbane), B Goodwin (South Sydney), S Johnson (NZ Warriors), S Kasiano (Canterbury Bulldogs), K Locke (NZ Warriors), I Luke (South Sydney), S Mannering (NZ Warriors, capt), B Matulino (NZ Warriors), S Moa (Sydney Roosters), J Nightingale (St George Illawarra), F-P Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters), F Pritchard (Canterbury Bulldogs), E Taylor (NZ Warriors), R Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), J Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), D Whare (Penrith), S B Williams (Sydney Roosters).