Rugby League World Cup: Latest team news and lineups for the semi-finals

And then there was four. The Rugby League World Cup enters the home straight this weekend, with a clash between Australia and New Zealand set to shake the foundations of Elland Road before Samoa seek redemption against the English.

Here is all the latest team news ahead of what promises to be two classic semi-final matches.

Australia v New Zealand (Saturday 12th November 6:45am (AEDT) Elland Road, Leeds)

The Kiwis had to rely on some individual brilliance from Joey Manu to help them get past a stubborn Fijian team in the quarters and know they will have to improve if they are to knock off the Kangaroos.

MORE: New Zealand break Fijian hearts with late try in their epic quarter final match

They have a dreadful 14-1 losing record against Australia at the World Cup, with their solitary victory coming in the memorable decider back in 2008. 

Yet this Kiwi team is the best in recent memory as they carry plenty of attacking threat all over the park, as well as having a forward pack that has legitimate claims at being the best in the world at the moment.

The Sydney Roosters’ spiritual leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been left out due to a reported injury, with Michael Maguire hoping he has enough grunt up front to counteract the veteran’s absence.

MORE: JWH left out of Michael Maguire’s Kiwi squad reportedly through a hamstring injury 

Moses Leota returns after picking up a groin strain during the final training session ahead of their game with the Bati, while former captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak also comes back into contention after being ruled out with a hamstring injury last weekend.

Scott Sorensen joins Marata Niukore, Jeremy Marshall-King, Sebastian Kris and Hargreaves on the sidelines.

Interestingly, both Mal Meninga and Maguire have opted to name their sides in alphabetical order, keeping their cards close to their chest with the defending champions and the current No.1 ranked Test team in the world set to meet in an epic showdown. 

New Zealand team to play Australia (alphabetical): 

16. NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA, 8. JESSE BROMWICH, 12. KENNY BROMWICH, 6. DYLAN BROWN, 10. JAMES FISHER-HARRIS, 14. KIERAN FORAN, 4. PETA HIKU, 7. JAHROME HUGHES, 15. MOSES LEOTA, 20. ISAAC LIU, 1. JOSEPH MANU, 2. RONALDO MULITALO, 21. CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD, 17. BRITON NIKORA, 11. ISAIAH PAPALI’I, 5. JORDAN RAPANA, 9. BRANDON SMITH, 13. JOSEPH TAPINE, 19. DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK  

Australia team to play New Zealand (alphabetical): 

9. JOSH ADDO-CARR, 6. REAGAN CAMPBELL-GILLARD, 13. PATRICK CARRIGAN, 2. DALY CHERRY-EVANS, 14. NATHAN CLEARY, 16. REUBEN COTTER, 17. ANGUS CRICHTON, 18. TINO FAÁSUAMALEAUI, 20. HARRY GRANT, 4. VALENTINE HOLMES, 3. BEN HUNT, 21. LIAM MARTIN, 8. LATRELL MITCHELL, 7. CAMERON MUNSTER. 11. CAMERON MURRAY, 1. JAMES TEDESCO, 5. JAKE TRBOJEVIC, 10. JACK WIGHTON, 24. ISAAH YEO

Australia have gone about their business with minimal fuss by brushing away their opposition with relative ease.

They too have yet to hit top gear, with Meninga declaring he wanted an improved kicking game and a better showcase of attacking football than what they dished up against Lebanon in their quarter final.

Nathan Cleary has won the battle with Daly Cherry-Evans for the starting halfback spot, but the Manly skipper has been shown plenty of loyalty by the coach who has included him in his 19-man squad.

MORE: Mal Meninga ready for the ‘most important game of the World Cup’ against New Zealand 

Rested against the Cedars, after featuring in all three pool games, Ben Hunt returns and will start at hooker. He will be working in tandem with Harry Grant like the duo did so effectively for Queensland in State of Origin.

The addition of Hunt in place of Campbell Graham is one of two changes Meninga made to the side which beat Lebanon, as Reagan Campbell-Gillard returns from injury in place of Lindsay Collins.

England v Samoa (Sunday, November 13, 1.30am (AEDT) at Emirates Stadium, London)

In the opening game of the tournament, England made a statement by battering Samoa 60-6 to leave Matt Parish’s side in disarray.

They had entered into the World Cup on a wave of goodwill with their NRL talent believed to be about to lift them to newfound heights. Yet this wasn’t the case as they endured a nightmare at St James’ Park.

According to their assistant coach Lee Radford they were “caught cold” by the home nation but have since put three consecutive wins together to earn their shot at revenge against Shaun Wane’s men.

MORE: Help from some Super League stars has Samoa firing on all cylinders ahead of English match

Samoa’s 20-18 victory over Tonga last weekend appeared to have come at a price with their captain Junior Paulo suspended for an elbow to the throat of David Fifita.

However, the Parramatta forward challenged the ruling and eventually got a reprieve allowing him to line-up against the English. As will the barnstorming fullback Joesph Suaali’i who was cited for lifting his knee in a tackle.

Samoa team to play England (alphabetical): 

21 FA’AMANU BROWN, 4 STEPHEN CRICHTON, 20 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA, 15 ROYCE HUNT, 23 OREGON KAUFUSI, 25 TIM LAFAI, 16 SPENCER LENIU, 6 JAROME LUAI, 2 TAYLAN MAY, 7 ANTHONY MILFORD, 8 JOSH PAPALI’I, 10 JUNIOR PAULO, 11 LIGI SAO, 26 KEN SIO, 12 JAYDN SU’A, 1 JOSEPH SUAALI’I, 17 MARTIN TAUPAU, 5 BRIAN TO’O, 22 KELMA TUILAGI

England team to play Samoa (numerical):

1 SAM TOMKINS, 2 TOMMY MAKINSON, 3 KALLUM WATKINS, 4 HERBIE FARNWORTH, 6 JACK WELSBY, 7 GEORGE WILLIAMS, 8 TOM BURGESS, 9 MICKY MCILORUM, 10 LUKE THOMPSON, 11 ELLIOT WHITEHEAD, 12 JOHN BATEMAN, 13 VICTOR RADLEY, 14 DOM YOUNG, 15 MORGAN KNOWLES, 17 MIKE COOPER, 18 CHRIS HILL, 20 MIKE MCMEEKEN, 21 MARC SNEYD, 24 KAI PEARCE-PAUL

England recorded an impressive win over Papua New Guinea in their quarter final, with Tommy Makinson grabbing some of the limelight off Dom Young with his five four-pointers.  

They have found tries easy to come by throughout the tournament and have now won their past four games by an average margin of 52 points.

In those four matches they have dominated the ball, recording a higher average possession percentage than any other team in the tournament, with 58%.

Wane has a confident and settled side on the penultimate weekend of the World Cup, with just two new additions to his squad.

Canterbury prop Luke Thompson returns to the frame alongside Marc Sneyd, who is likely to be in the reserves. St Helens star Matty Lees has been left out.  

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