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Bennett axes Widdop for Scotland clash

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Ian McCullough

England coach Wayne Bennett has dropped St George Illlawarra playmaker Gareth Widdop following last week's Four Nations defeat by New Zealand.

Widdop has been replaced by Wigan's George Williams for Saturday's game against Scotland, in the match that precedes the Australia-New Zealand encounter at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.

In a surprising move by the seven-time premiership-winning coach, Widdop is sacrificed but halfback Luke Gale, who struggled against the Kiwis, keeps his place.

But Bennett said it was Gale's defensive qualities that caught his eye.

"Luke's defence was outstanding," Bennett said.

"I don't think he has a reputation for defending but he was really, really good.

"I just think he probably lost his way a little bit, it was his first big match and he let a few things slip by that I would encourage him to take in the future.

"He's a very talented footballer. He's good with the ball in his hands, I've seen enough of him to know that. He just didn't get the ball enough the other day.

Wigan's Liam Farrell is recalled after being left out of Bennett's 17-man squad last week, while Scott Taylor will deputise for Canterbury skipper James Graham, who's sidelined with a knee injury.

Graham has tweaked a medial ligament but is fully expected to play in next Sunday's make or break clash against the Kangaroos in London.

"I'll try to stay as close to the team that I will probably pick to play against Australia," Bennett said.

"We just need more time together, this team won't be too far off, with the exception of a couple of positions.

"The New Zealand game has gone now. We've reviewed it, talked about it and now back out on the field to get things right for Scotland on Saturday."

Squad: John Bateman, George Burgess, Sam Burgess (capt), Tom Burgess , Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Liam Farrell, Luke Gale, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Jermaine McGillvary, Mark Percival, Dan Sarginson, Scott Taylor, Kallum Watkins, Elliot Whitehead, George Williams.

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