Sam Burgess and James Graham are 'leading contenders' for England captaincy

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Sam Burgess
Burgess last played for England in the 2013 World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand

Sam Burgess and James Graham are the "leading contenders" to captain England during the forthcoming Four Nations, says new coach Wayne Bennett.

Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin, who led the side for last year's series win over New Zealand, is out through injury.

Burgess and Graham both play in Australia's National Rugby League.

Asked whether he had considered naming a Super League player as captain, Brisbane coach Bennett said: "My only criteria is the best man for the job."

Burgess' World Cup highlights

He added he would make his decision at the weekend, after speaking to Rugby Football League chief Nigel Wood.

Burgess, who plays for South Sydney Rabbitohs, is back in the England squad for the first time since he returned from rugby union.

The 27-year-old switched codes to play at last year's rugby union World Cup, and last played for England's rugby league side in the 2013 World Cup semi-final.

"It's great to have Sam back," said Bennett. "He's a huge player in our game. He is inspirational and everyone looks up to him."

Graham, 31, plays for Canterbury Bulldogs and is England's most-capped player, with 29.

England have never won the Four Nations, which this year also includes Australia, New Zealand and Scotland.

They play a one-off match against France in Avignon on 22 October, for which Burgess is suspended, before the Four Nations.

England then play New Zealand in Huddersfield on 29 October, Scotland in Coventry on 5 November and Australia at the Olympic Stadium on 13 November.

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