Scrum-half Gale misses out on England selection

Luke Gale.
Luke Gale.
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Castleford Tigers scrum-half Luke Gale will again be a spectator when England face New Zealand in Saturday’s decisive third Test.

Gale had an outstanding season for Tigers and was named in the First Utility Super League Dream Team, but has not been selected for any of the three Tests, or the warm-up match against France.

England coach Steve McNamara could make his first changes of the tournament on Saturday, after including Wigan half-back Matty Smith and Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary - the top try scorer in Super League this year – in his initial 19-man squad.

Ben Westwood and Leroy Cudjoe, who were travelling reserves for the first two games, have been left out.

“We have had a great week with our preparation and the players are ready to take on a strong New Zealand side,” said McNamara, whose team lost 9-2 last week after a 26-12 victory in the series opener.

“The players are well aware of the importance of the game and the improvements we have to make from our previous matches to give ourselves every chance of beating New Zealand.

“We will have to be at our best to win, but we’ll relish the pressure of playing against a quality team in front of a full house at Wigan.”

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney is likely to stick with last week’s winning team, though he has named a 19-man squad, with Isaac Liu and Gerard Beale on stand-by.

Kodi Nikorima, a late inclusion at scrum-half for the game in London, will continue in the side with Tuimoala Lolohea – who he replaced – dropping out of the initial squad.

Kearney said: “These lads got the job done last week and it was a good performance.

“I don’t feel there was a need to change the team.”

England: from Hardaker, J Burgess, Watkins, Bateman, Hall, Widdop, Williams, Graham, Hodgson, Hill, Whitehead, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Roby, T Burgess, Cooper, Ferres, McGillvary, Smith

New Zealand: from Tuivasa-Sheck, Nightingale, Kahu, Whare, Kenny-Dowall, Hiku, Nikorima, Bromwich, Luke, Moa, Proctor, Harris, Blair, Brown, Taupau, Matulino, Glenn, Liu, Beale.

Referee: Ben Thaler (England). Kick-off: Saturday, 1pm.