Hull KR full-back Shannon McDonnell has received a dramatic late call-up to the Exiles side tonight.
The Australian was drafted in yesterday afternoon following the late withdrawal of injured Exiles captain Brett Hodgson.
McDonnell comes straight into the starting line-up against England in place of the ex-Huddersfield Giants star with Wigan Warriors’ Thomas Leuluai taking over the armband.
Coach Daniel Anderson, in charge of the side comprising Super League’s finest overseas players, was also forced into another last-ditch change.
Catalan centre Setamaita Sa has pulled out meaning Sia Solioloa switches from the pack to the three-quarters and Huddersfield’s David Fa’alogo – himself not included in the original squad – is picked at loose-forward.
Former Bradford Bulls winger Patrick Ah Van is on standby in case of any further setbacks before kick-off at St Helens this evening.
The Exiles had already lost last season’s match-winner George Carmont and Wigan team-mate Brett Finch earlier in the week as they prepared for the opener.
But Anderson, who has taken over from Brian McClennan, is confident the representative side can be just as competitive.
Plenty of pressure is on Catalan’s Australian scrum-half Scott Dureau alongside Leuluai but the coach reckons their powerful pack will suitably set the platform.
“Thomas has international experience, including a Rugby League World Cup final, but this is Scott’s first representative team so he is really excited,” said Anderson.
“The best thing for them is that they are playing behind a big pack.
“As a half-back, you love to have big men in front of you.
“The game is a battle of the forwards and of momentum and, if you win momentum, your halves can be creative and threatening in their play.
“We’ve got a strong pack and indeed a strong bench. We’re confident that we have a team who can dig in and do well in the emotional component of the game.
“We’ve certainly got the talent. There are a lot of boys here who are keen to showcase what they’ve got.
“They’re from different clubs at different places in the Super League table but they are all still top rugby league players and I think they can show that for the Exiles.”