29 Nov 2017
ENGLAND'S O'LOUGHLIN RACES CLOCK FOR FINAL
England have enough depth to cover the absence of Sean O'Loughlin should the inspirational skipper be ruled out of Saturday's Rugby League World Cup final, according to prop Chris Hill.
England stocks have already been tested after star hooker Josh Hodgson was ruled out with a torn ACL, forcing coach Wayne Bennett to bring Chris Heighington onto the bench.
In what is an otherwise unchanged line-up from the team that survived a roaring comeback from Tonga in the semi-final, veteran James Roby will now play 80 minutes at hooker.
"Robes can do 80 minutes regardless. He's done it for 15 years in Super League. He's done it in internationals, Great Britain, so he's more than capable," Hill said on Tuesday.
However all eyes will be on O'Loughlin and his shoulder issue when England take to the training paddock for a field session on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old remains a 50-50 chance of featuring at Suncorp Stadium.
"I'm not a physio. If I was, I'd heal him like that. Seeing him this morning, he's moving a lot better so we've got a couple of days," Hill said.
"HE'S DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO GET FIT. I THINK IF HE DOESN'T PLAY, OBVIOUSLY IT'S A LOSS. BUT THAT'S WHY WE'VE GOT A SQUAD. SOMEBODY HAS TO STEP IN."
Hill is also adamant the underdogs will challenge the favourites, having pushed Australia in the tournament-opener in Melbourne five weeks ago.
The Kangaroos only led 10-4 before scoring eight points in the final five minutes.
"We've got to control the ball, it's as simple as that. We can compete with the best, we've proved that. It's got to be who's best with the ball on the night," Hill said.
"We can go toe-to-toe with them but if you give them too much ball, they'll punish you.
"They had a runaway try at the end, which, we were chancing our arm and we needed to. I thought we could've improved with our chances a lot more in the first half."
This article first appeared on NRL.com
Matt Encarnacion | @mattencarnacion