After an impressive 10-try victory over Samoa in their World Cup opener, hosts England are back in action on Saturday when they face France in Bolton.
Head coach Shaun Wane is set to ring the changes for the weekend and has urged the players coming in to make the most of their opportunity.
|What:||England v France|
|Where:||University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton|
|When:||17:00, Saturday 22nd October|
|How to watch:||BBC Two|
|Odds:||England 1/200, France|
There were some suggestions before the tournament that England could be in for a tough afternoon in their opener against Samoa at St James’ Park.
Samoa have a host of NRL stars in their ranks and were tipped to cause England a few problems up in Newcastle.
However, an undercooked Samoan side were blown off the park in an emphatic 60-6 victory for the tournament hosts.
Eight different players scored tries that day in Newcastle, with winger Dom Young bagging himself a brace on a dream international debut for the youngster.
With games against France on Saturday and Greece on 29th October, England look to be in a great position to finish, as expected, at the top of Pool A.
With seven players who were not in the matchday squad last Saturday expected to come into the side, there are opportunities for other stars to impress against the French.
Wane is likely to tinker with his side through the next two pool games to work out his best combinations for the all-important knockout stages.
The former Wigan boss feels the mood in the England camp has been good and believes the hunger is there from players who did not feature last week to impress.
"They understand I can only pick 17 and this week is their chance," said Wane. "It was very difficult to pick that last team because the players I didn't pick were all in good form.
"I was impressed by their response, all 24 care passionately about their country.
"Then we've got the Greece game and hopefully we've got the quarter-finals. Then it's fair game, whoever I'm convinced will get us that win in the quarter-final will play."
Two England veterans who did not feature against the Samoans will be looking to catch Wane’s eye in the form of centre John Bateman and winger Ryan Hall.
Bateman is back available after his three-match suspension for a red card playing for Wigan Warriors in their Super League playoff semi-final defeat at the hands of Leeds Rhinos.
Young got in ahead of Hall but the prolific Hull KR winger will be relishing the prospect of getting try scoring opportunities against the French this weekend.
Having suffered a 30-10 defeat to England last October, it looks like France will have to produce some performance to push the hosts close on Saturday.
The French did manage to get their World Cup off to a winning start thanks to a 34-12 victory over Greece but this clash in Bolton will be on a very different level.
While the Catalans Dragons and Toulouse are producing some excellent French stars, the national side is still a few years away from really competing against the likes of Australia, England and New Zealand.
France will still hold real ambitions of reaching the knockout stages, and the battle to finish second looks to be an intriguing one in Pool A.
It’s all set to come down to the showdown between Samoa and France at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington on 30th October.
France will have been given heart from the disappointing display Samoa produced against England and might well fancy their chances to cause an upset against the Pacific Islanders.
Even with England making changes for the trip to Bolton, the hosts should run out comfortable winners.
The English inflicted France’s biggest ever defeat back in 2015 when they ran out 84-4 winners over Les Bleus in Leigh.
While a margin of victory in that range would be somewhat ambitious, England do have the depth to put France to the sword this weekend.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.