England will cope without skipper against Kiwis: Tomkins

England rugby league playmaker Sam Tomkins insists his side will cope with the absence of talismanic captain Sean O'Loughlin against New Zealand at Anfield.

The veteran forward will miss Sunday's (Monday 0130 AEDT) second Test after failing to recover from a calf injury he sustained in the early stages of the first match in Hull last Saturday.

Absence: England are confident they can overcome an injury to captain Sean O'Loughlin.

Absence: England are confident they can overcome an injury to captain Sean O’Loughlin.Credit:AP

England will announce a replacement captain on Thursday, expected to be either St George Illawarra's James Graham or Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson.

Coach Wayne Bennett is set to plug the gap in the pack by giving a debut to either Joe Greenwood, O'Loughlin's Wigan teammate, or Castleford loose forward Adam Milner.

Tomkins knows all about the importance of O'Loughlin, having played alongside him for club and country for eight of the last 10 years, but insists he is not irreplaceable.

"You can replace him," said Tomkins.

"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."

Bennett, whose side lead the three-match series 1-0 following their 18-16 win at KCOM Stadium, is likely to keep any changes to a minimum as they look for a series-clinching victory.

Tomkins has revealed he missed his own bachelor party in Hamburg at the weekend after getting the chance to revive his international career.

"I needed to book it two months ago," explained Tomkins, who is leaving Wigan to join Catalans Dragons for 2019.

"I couldn't book it any later because I would be back in training. Pre-season starts the end of November so I couldn't book it any other time.

Wayne Bennett's side can wrap up the series at Anfield.

Wayne Bennett’s side can wrap up the series at Anfield.Credit:PA

"It was a win-win because, if I didn't play for England, I'm on my stag do and, if I'm not on my stag do, I'm playing for England.

"The rest of them enjoyed it, they didn't miss me. I think after 10 pints you forget whose round it is."


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