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McNamara open to line-up change
England coach Steve McNamara is set set to start off his side's World Cup campaign with a familiar half-back pairing but warns there could be changes along the way.
Skipper Kevin Sinfield and 2011 Man of Steel Rangi Chase, who have been pulling the strings together for England for the last two years, will be reunited for Saturday afternoon's friendly against Italy in Salford and look favourites to start next Saturday's opening World Cup clash with Australia in Cardiff.
But McNamara can also call on Melbourne Storm stand-off Gareth Widdop and Leeds hooker or half-back Rob Burrow and admits he may rotate his combinations through the group stages.
"We've got some great options, some superb options," McNamara said.
"Can I see it being the same six and seven throughout the tournament? Probably not.
"It's a long tournament. We do want to build some consistency because it helps the team find its rhythm but we've got some very good players. Whatever it is for game one, might not be the same for game two and game three as we progress through the tournament."
In truth, McNamara has been a model of consistency throughout his three years at the helm and left five members of his 24-man squad unused throughout the 2011 Four Nations Series.
Three of those players - Carl Ablett (Leeds), Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield) and Michael McIlorum (Wigan) - will be hoping the same fate does not befall them this time, although all three will get to press their case by starting the warm-up match against the Italians.
Cudjoe looks to be in pole position to deputise for injured Brisbane Broncos centre Jack Reed while Ablett could be vying with Gareth Hock to fill the second row vacancy caused by the withdrawal of his Rhinos team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
McNamara's biggest selection headache will be in the pack where he has an array of talent at his disposal, much of it from the NRL.
International regulars Sam Burgess and James Graham have not been available for three and two years respectively and their presence, allied to the emergence of twins Tom and George Burgess, has injected even more firepower into England's traditional area of strength.