England's World Cup campaign has been hit by further turmoil with Rangi Chase walking out on the squad on the eve of their semifinal with the Kiwis at Wembley.
The 27-year-old Dannevirke-born five-eighth was left out of the side to play New Zealand tomorrow morning (NZT), being replaced by Melbourne's Gareth Widdop in the halves. He has been a controversial selection since he made his debut in 2011 and many think coach Steve McNamara showed incredibly loyalty by sticking with him this long.
He was poor in the 34-6 win over France last weekend and has had an underwhelming World Cup.
McNamara indicated Chase is likely to skip attending the game against New Zealand but would return to the squad next week if they progressed to the final.
"He has asked for a bit of time at home,'' McNamara. "He wasn't selected this week, so he's asked for that time at home and we were happy to grant that permission, so he is back home with his family.
"There is no issue whatsoever for me with him. He wasn't selected, and people deal with that in different ways.
"Rangi has been really good for this team for a long period of time but, as a coach, I have to make decisions based on what I believe is right every single week for the team and I've done that this week and I'm really pleased with the team that we're going to put out against New Zealand.''
It is another distraction to England's campaign which had already dealt with some issues. Gareth Hock was kicked out of the 24-man for on the eve of the tournament for breaching team discipline and Zak Hardaker also withdrew from the team for discipline reasons.
McNamara, though, had a dig at other teams, and probably Australia in particular, for the way they have handled discipline issues. Australia fullback Billy Slater was interviewed by police after an incident outside a Manchester nightclub at 3am, Josh Papalii was mugged on his first night in the UK and reports surfaced this week that skipper Cameron Smith and Nate Myles had nearly come to blows.
"I think it's been really good,'' McNamara said of their campaign. "Sometimes you might think there are some issues because we decide to deal with some issues and people might not deal with issues in their camp so you might not think there are issues. We do.
"We have standards, we set standards. We have had a really good campaign and our preparation has been good. The quality of our performances has been good at certain times. We would have liked to have played better and we will play better this week.''
They will need to if they are to overcome a confident Kiwis outfit. New Zealand will be without Frank Pritchard, who hasn't overcome the hamstring injury he picked up in training this week.
Alex Glenn will come into the squad but New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney was still undecided on how they would line up. Captain Simon Mannering could slot into the second-row, where he plays for the Warriors, with Glenn starting in the back-row but Elijah Taylor was another option.
Manu Vatuvei was running freely on the sidelines during the captain's run overnight but Kearney confirmed Jason Nightingale will start on the wing.
"It's disappointing to lose those players but we have full confidence in the players we are putting there,'' he said. "That's one thing we have been blessed with, the depth of talent we have.''
A crowd of about 70,000 is expected for the double header, at Wembley which will see Australia take on Fiji immediately after England play New Zealand.