England at full strength for Tonga semi-final

England has cleared Kevin Brown to play against Tonga in the World Cup semi-final after suffering a head knock against Papua New Guinea
England has cleared Kevin Brown to play against Tonga in the World Cup semi-final after suffering a head knock against Papua New Guinea JOE CASTRO

ENGLAND playmaker Kevin Brown and star forward Sam Burgess have both passed fitness tests and are right for Saturday's Rugby League World Cup semi-final against Tonga, assistant coach Denis Betts says.

The Warrington-based Brown, the beneficiary of linchpin Gareth Widdop's fullback switch, suffered a head knock in last week's 36-6 win over Papua New Guinea.

He was named in the team for Saturday's semi-final in Auckland, but needed to pass concussion protocols during the week.

Betts told reporters he had done so and would play against Mate Ma'a, while Burgess - named in the second row - had overcome an ankle issue.

"Kevin's fit, he's always been fit, never in doubt -just had to run through the protocols at this point,” Betts said.

"He's been really good all week, and Sam's been great. We've been really fortunate at the moment, got a full squad training.

"All the stuff we've put in place now that the game's trying to protect people with, we've put (Brown) through those things, he's got the all-clear.”

Betts backed the 33-year-old Brown to shine against a bustling Tonga, having coached the veteran stand-off and named him captain at Widnes.

Brown will join Castleford star Luke Gale in the halves for Saturday's match, with his game management and experience to prove crucial.

"He's had some ups and downs in his career and he's been through the mill, in the international side, out of the side, fought his way back in,” Betts said.

"He's always been a big player that can turn up in a big game and put big plays on.”

The team: 1 Gareth Widdop, 2 Jermaine McGillvary, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 John Bateman, 5 Ryan Hall, 6 Kevin Brown, 7 Luke Gale, 8 Chris Hill, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 James Graham, 11 Sam Burgess, 12 Elliot Whitehead, 13 Sean O'Loughlin, 14 Alex Walmsley, 15 Tom Burgess, 16 Ben Currie, 17 James Roby, 18 Jonny Lomax, 19 Chris Heighington, 20 Mark Percival, 21 Scott Taylor.

Topics:  denis betts england rugby league kevin brown rugby league world cup sam burgess tonga

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