England are ready to seize their opportunity to make a mark on the world stage, according to head coach Steve McNamara.
After allowing Stephen Kearney’s New Zealand to draw level with victory in the second Test in London last weekend, England have a second chance to pull off a first series triumph since 2007.
And McNamara is determined to make it count in the decider at Wigan, where his own future as national coach is almost certainly riding on the outcome.
The Kiwis have delivered the knockout blow to McNamara’s men in heartbreaking fashion in each of the last two years and a third setback could prove fatal for the former Bradford boss.
“It’s not about me,” McNamara said at the captain’s run at the DW Stadium. “Every Test match is really important.
“Last week was disappointing for us, we knew that if we had won that game, we’d wrap the series up. Well, the stakes are the same this week.
“We’ve had good moments but we’ve not had sustained good moments and winning the series this time against the number-one-ranked team in the world would be a huge feather in our nest and, hopefully, the springboard for us repeating that next year.”
McNamara has yet to confirm his line-up for the third Test but looks sure to give a debut to Huddersfield winger Jermaine McGillvary and a recall to scrum-half Matty Smith after including them in a 19-man squad.
“There are a couple of new faces in there who can add something different to our team this week,” he said. “We’ve looked at all the options in and around those areas and come up with a team that we’re going to play. We won’t announce that until kick-off.”
McGillvary was named in the 2015 Super League Dream Team after topping the try-scoring list with 27 touchdowns, including 13 in the Super 8s, a run that came to a halt in his club’s 32-8 defeat by Wigan at the DW Stadium.
“He’s certainly trained unbelievably well,” McNamara said of the blockbusting winger. “It’s been great having him in the group and he can add something to the team if selected. He’s tremendously hard to tackle, he can increase the speed of the ruck and his finishing close to the line has been impeccable all year.
“There haven’t been many long-range chances in the games so far, it’s all been pretty close-range, very tough attrition type play so Jermaine is in the equation based on some of those things he can do.”
McGillvary is likely to displace Wigan’s Joe Burgess, Matty Smith replacing George Williams.
England (probable): Z Hardaker (Leeds); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), K Watkins (Leeds), J Bateman (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), M Smith (Wigan); J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), J Hodgson (Canberra), C Hill (Warrington), L Farrell (Wigan), E Whitehead (Catalans Dragons), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt).
Substitutes: J Roby (St Helens), T Burgess (South Sydney), M Cooper (St George Illawarra), B Ferres (Huddersfield).
New Zealand: R Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters); J Nightingale (St George Illawarra), J Kahu (Brisbane), D Whare (Penrith), S Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters); P Hiku (Manly), K Nikorima (Brisbane); J Bromwich (Melbourne), I Luke (South Sydney, co-capt), S Moa (Sydney Roosters), K Proctor (Melbourne), T Harris (Melbourne), A Blair (Brisbane, co-capt).
Substitutes: M Taupau (Wests Tigers), B Matulino (NZ Warriors), A Glenn (Brisbane), L Brown (Penrith).
Referee: B Thaler (England).