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New Zealand when they line-up against England in the second game of their three-Test series at Anfield on Sunday.
The Kiwis face the prospect of losing the Baskerville Shield after going down 18-16 in a thriller in the opening game of the series.
Should they fail to square it up, it’ll be the first time the Kiwis have lost to a British side in three consecutive games since 2007 when they last lost all three matches in a tour against Great Britain — the second time this series was held.
As for England, their bid to wrap up the series has been made that little bit tougher after losing talismanic captain Sean O’Loughlin to a calf injury he sustained in the early stages of the first Test in Hull last Saturday.
Coach Wayne Bennett said bench forward Luke Thompson, who was called on to play more minutes, made O’Loughlin’s loss “much easier”, before going on to claim his side “didn’t have a bad player.
But O’Loughlin is another injury blow for Bennett’s men who lost the likes of Gareth Widdop, Luke Gale and Sam Burgess in the lead-up to the series.
One man who knows how influential O’Loughlin can be is Sam Tomkins, who has played alongside him for club and country for eight of the last 10 years.
But despite his admiration for the skipper, Tomkins insisted he is not irreplaceable.
“You can replace him,” Tomkins said.
“You won’t get exactly the same and whether you get better or worse, I don’t know, but ‘Lockers’ is one of our best players without doubt.
“He’s the best player every time he pulls the jersey on for Wigan and when he plays for England you know you’re going to get a minimum of eight out of 10, he plays well or really well.
Oliver Gildart’s stunning second-half try, on his international debut, helped England to an 18-16 victory over New Zealand at the KCOM Stadium in Hull in the first Test and they will be looking to wrap the series up at Anfield on Sunday.
England will have a third captain in four games, largely due to the increasingly suspect nature of Sean O’Loughlin’s battered body.
The Wigan loose forward this week signed a new contract with his club for 2019, but he turns 36 later this month and is already being groomed as a future head coach.
Wayne Bennett rates him “touch and go” for the third Test and there must be a distinct possibility that his 25th cap in Hull was his last.
England have a wealth of options as his successor. Sam Burgess, who captained England in the World Cup final, is the most obvious choice, but Bennett could also turn to current stand-in skipper James Graham, Gareth Widdop or Josh Hodgson who all have captaincy experience at club level.
Despite falling well below the level they showed in beating Australia a fortnight earlier, the Kiwis could so easily have won the first Test in Hull and will have identified the areas they need to improve.
It is fair to say the tourists probably did not get a fair rub of the green in Hull, particularly over the penalty try awarded to England on the stroke of half-time, and they will be happy to see an NRL referee in charge on Sunday.
New Zealand bounced back from their opening defeat at the KCOM Stadium in 2015 to level the series in London and they are favourites with the bookmakers to do the same again.
The crowd of 17,649 in Hull was a disappointment and initial estimates for Anfield have suggested an attendance of around 25,000, which would look lost in a stadium that holds 54,000.
A late publicity push on Friday morning, might help push the figure closer to the 40,000 that watched the 2016 Four Nations Series final between Australia and New Zealand.
Anfield is currently being touted as a potential Magic Weekend venue, so Super League supremo Robert Elstone will be particularly interested in the size of the crowd on Sunday.
England calculated a play-the-ball speed average of almost half a second slower (3.89 seconds) compared to the Kiwis last weekend, indicating a slower ruck speed across the board. James Graham (4.59 seconds) and George Burgess (5.09 seconds) were well above the side’s average, while Luke Thompson (3.42 second average) recorded the quickest of the big men.