England v France RLWC2021

England’s bid to break a 50-year World Cup drought goes up a notch on Saturday when they face Papua New Guinea in the quarter-finals in Wigan.

The last time an English or British side lifted the trophy was back in 1972 when they were led by Clive Sullivan.

England is seeking to end that run and will face the Kumuls, the team they beat in the 2017 quarter-finals, at the DW Stadium.

Papua New Guinea is arguably much improved from five years ago and in 2019 sensationally knocked off the Lions in Port Moresby.

The Pacific nation booked its spot in the last eight with a win over Wales in Doncaster.

The Kumuls have a shorter turnaround than England, with two less days to prepare for the match.

The hosts are expected to have captain Sam Tomkins returning at fullback, with Jack Welsby moving back into the halves alongside George Williams and Michael McIlorum into hooker.

Kallum Watkins and Herbie Farnworth are expected at centre, with Tommy Makinson and Dom Young the likely wingers.

On home soil, England will be the favourites but must be wary of Stanley Tepend’s men.

They are physical and confident, and know much reaching the semi-finals would mean to their rugby league-mad country.

Jimmy Ngutlik crossed for two tries against Wales, as did Nixon Putt.

Halves Kyle Laybutt and Lachlan Lam have done a job in directing Papua New Guinea around the field, while Edwin Ipape has been a threat all tournament.

With Rhyse Martin’s goal-kicking and Justin Olam on the edges, England will have to be at their best to book a place in the final four.

England squad

1 Tara Stanley
3 Fran Goldthorp
5 Leah Burke
6 Georgia Roche
7 Courtney Winfield-Hill
9 Tara Jones
10 Dannielle Anderson
11 Hollie Dodd
12 Emily Rudge
14 Vicky Molyneux
15 Vicky Whitfield
16 Beth Stott
17 Shona Hoyle
18 Olivia Wood
19 Paige Travis
20 Georgia Wilson
21 Keara Bennett
23 Carrie Roberts
24 Zoe Hornby

PNG Squad

John is a freelance journalist who has been writing about rugby league for the past decade. He covered the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, has appeared on TV and radio, and been published in The I-Paper, The Guardian, The Sun, The Mirror, League Express, Inside Sport magazine and Big League. He writes regularly for Forty-20 magazine, League Weekly and co-hosts the podcasts By the Balls and Six To Go.