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Rugby League World Cup: England v Fiji preview

England will have one run out before the real action begins in the Rugby League World Cup as they face Fiji in Salford on Friday night.

With a few new faces in Shaun Wane's England squad, it's a chance for players to make their international debuts and set down a marker before the tough tournament opener against Samoa on 15th October.

Wane happy to secure Fiji showdown

What

England v Fiji, 2021 World Cup warm-up

Where

AJ Bell Stadium, Salford

When

19:30, Friday 7th October 2022

How to watch

RLWC2021 app

Odds

England N/A, Fiji N/A

With the World Cup being postponed from last year, England were originally expected to face the Fijians last autumn at the Crown Oil Arena in Rochdale.

As part of the 150th anniversary of Rochdale Hornets celebrations, the international warm-up game was expected to be played in the Lancashire town, only for the venue to be moved down the road to Salford's AJ Bell Stadium.

For Wane the most important thing is the warm-up game against the Fijians can still go ahead, as the former Wigan Warriors head coach feels it will be ideal preparation for the tournament opener against the Samoans at St James' Park in Newcastle.

"I said last year before the World Cup was postponed that Fiji were ideal opposition for us to get ready for the Samoa game," Wane said. "I'm pleased we've been able to rearrange the game for this year.

"They're a very talented team who will give us a real challenge, which will be good for the players and for us as coaches.

"And as a rugby league fan it's a game I'd be looking forward to. I hope our supporters come out and get behind us ahead of the World Cup."

Fiji eyeing upset against the hosts

Fiji head into the World Cup as outsiders to win the competition at 50/1 but they should certainly not be taken lightly having managed to reach the semi-finals of all of the last three tournaments in 2008, 2013 and 2017.

With the likes of Maika Sivo, Viliame Kikau and Kevin Naiqama in their ranks, Fiji boast a host of stars plying their trade in the NRL.

These are players who play with and against some of the biggest stars in the sport and that can only be a good thing for the Fijian national side.

Fiji and England are in separate groups at this year's World Cup but the two nations could potentially meet in the quarter-finals of the major tournament.

A free hit against the hosts and one of the tournament favourites in England will be something head coach Joe Dukuitoga and his Fiji side will relish.

There's no such thing really as an international "friendly" in rugby league and a physical game can be expected under the lights at the AJ Bell Stadium.

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Rugby League World Cup: All you need to know

A balancing act for Wane

While Wane will be looking to develop partnerships with players who will start in the opener against Samoa, he won't want to risk injury to key personnel.

It's a tricky balancing act for the experienced coach, as he also looks to give new players a chance to impress.

Uncapped NRL-based duo Dom Young and Victor Radley are expected to get significant minutes in this encounter.

With five players selected from Super League champions St Helens and one from fellow finalists Leeds Rhinos, a number of big names might well get the deserved extra rest after their extended club endeavours.

Crucial prep for big openers to come

England, who are 11/1 to win the World Cup, face a Samoa side in Newcastle that find themselves at 9/1 in the outright market to win the tournament.

It's a tricky opener for the hosts, before games against France and Greece who will provide easier opposition.

England are 6/5 to win against Samoa, who are 4/6 to get Wane's side off to a nightmare start at St James' Park.

As for Fiji, they will be hoping to build some confidence in their warm-up game against the English and they will certainly need it for their World Cup opener.

The Fijians have a daunting opening game against the 4/9 tournament favourites Australia on October 15th at Headingley Stadium in Leeds.

It's the Kangaroos who are 1/100 to bag the win in West Yorkshire, while Fiji are available at 16/1 to cause a major upset on the opening day of this highly-anticipated tournament.

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