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New-look England daring to dream of glory

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/10/2016 Ian McCullough

It's been 46 years since England's last success in a major rugby league tournament but the appointment of Wayne Bennett as coach and the return of prodigal son Sam Burgess has the Four Nations hosts daring to dream.

Bennett's men will open their tournament against defending champions New Zealand in front of a sell-out crowd in Huddersfield on Saturday, fielding one of their strongest ever line ups.

Burgess leads an outstanding pack alongside brothers Tom and George, James Graham, Mike Cooper, the Canberra duo of Josh Hodgson and Elliot Whitehead in addition to outstanding Warrington prop Chris Hill.

New Zealand are currently the No.1 ranked rugby league team in the world but were well beaten by the Kangaroos in Perth earlier this month and 12 months ago lost a three-match series to England, albeit with an under-strength side.

They also boast a poor record in the UK, winning just two of their last 10 encounters against Great Britain or England and have a rookie coach in David Kidwell at the helm following Steve Kearney's appointment by the Warriors last month.

Kidwell has kept faith with the side that performed so poorly in Perth.

England still have bad memories of the 2013 World Cup semi-final at Wembley where Shaun Johnson's magical last-second try and winning kick broke English hearts.

Bennett, who alongside Kearney, helped the Kiwis to glory in the 2008 World Cup, knows full well not to under-estimate Kidwell's side.

"They're a talented rugby league nation who know how to play the game and use the ball," Bennett said.

"They've got a big forward pack, they're very mobile and they've some quality players. We'll have to stop them there and we give ourselves a chance if we can do that."

Gareth Widdop and Luke Gale continue as the halves pairing after impressing in last week's 40-6 win over France in Avignon.

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