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England to play mid-year Test in Australia

NZN 15/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Some of the NRL's biggest names could be denied a rest after confirmation England will meet Samoa as part of an international rugby league triple-header in May.

The governing body on Wednesday confirmed the England-Samoa Test will be played after Papua New Guinea face Cook Island and Fiji take on Tonga in Campbelltown.

That means the likes of James Graham, Gareth Widdop, Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead, as well as Burgess brothers Sam, George and Tom could also take part in the match.

Gold Coast recruit Dan Sarginson is also expected to play, while the rest of the England squad will fly over despite being in the middle of the Super League season.

England coach Wayne Bennett said the weekend will be a crucial part of his squad's preparation for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand at the end of the year.

"We're under no illusions that this will be a tough test for us with the majority of the playing group coming from abroad, but we'll prepare the best we can," he said.

"The Samoans are always a tough outfit.

"But we've got a solid group of players to choose from and I'm looking forward to getting everyone together for the match ahead of the World Cup later this year."

The representative round is set to be the last of its kind before the NRL schedule undergoes a revamp as part of the new broadcast agreement, which begins next year.

Australia face New Zealand in Canberra on the Friday in what will be the last mid-year Test, before the final instalment of the annual NSW City-Country on the Sunday.

Pacific nation Tests are next year likely to be moved to the weekend when the second game of the State of Origin series is played on a Sunday.

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