Poppies to be worn with pride by Four Nations players

ENGLAND’S players will be wearing poppies on their shirts when they run out against New Zealand on Saturday.

The RFL made the decision to allow the display, seeing it as an important gesture during the remembrance period.

A RFL spokesman said: “The England rugby league team have always marked Remembrance Sunday by wearing poppies on their jerseys in international fixtures played over this important weekend.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“It’s entirely the right thing to do and all the players involved in this weekend’s Gillette Four Nations fixtures will wear their poppies with pride.”

The news comes after football’s governing body FIFA declined a request by the Football Association to allow the England team to wear poppies on their shirts against Spain on Saturday, although last night in a concession they said they would allow them to wear poppies on their armbands.

FIFA had expressed concerns that wearing the poppies might encourage other countries to ask for similar campaigns or tributes in the future.

Ahead of Saturday’s encounter at the KC Stadium, where a place in the final against Australia is on the line, New Zealand head coach Stephen Kearney said: “For us, we are always mindful and respectful of what the soldiers have done for us. From our point of view, it is a way of showing respect and that is why we will be wearing them on Saturday.”

Counterpart Steve McNamara is expecting a bumper partisan crowd to play a crucial role in Hull.

With ticket sales for what is effectively a semi-final exceeding 20,000, organisers are expecting a record crowd for an international against New Zealand and McNamara believes it will create an intimidating atmosphere for the visitors.

“I think it’s going to be a big factor,” said McNamara, who was born in Hull and made his Great Britain debut while playing for the Black and Whites. “Hull is an absolute sporting hot-bed. They’re as ferocious and passionate as any group you will meet.

“If you get a full KC Stadium, it can be a hugely intimidating place and I think it will be a big factor for us. We are going to war on Saturday night and we will need everybody behind us.”

Castleford Tigers have signed forwards Grant Millington from Canterbury Bulldogs and Lee Mitchell from Warrington.

Former Cronulla prop Millington, 25, has signed a two-year contract, while 21-year-old back row Mitchell joins on a one-year loan deal with a view to a permanent move.