Burgess injury woe as England lose World Cup opener

McGillvary crashes over for England's sole try
McGillvary crashes over for England's sole try
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England RL coach Wayne Bennett insists the injury to Sam Burgess will not derail his side's World Cup hopes.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs forward came off after 35 minutes of his country's 18-4 defeat to Australia in their tournament opener in Melbourne after succumbing to the injury he sustained in a tackle from Kangaroos second rower Matt Gillett.

Bennett told the post-match press conference his star player has sustained knee medial ligament damage, ruling him out until just before the quarter-finals, which start on November 18.

England have two more group games, against Lebanon and France, before entering the knockout stages, and will clearly be hoping to have Burgess back for the semi-finals on the weekend of November 24-25.

"Sam's done a medial by the look of it, that's three to four weeks," Bennett said.

"We've a quality footy team here. Sam's always going to be a loss to any team. But we managed for 60 minutes without him tonight and we didn't seem to lose a lot of momentum."

England had earlier suffered a blow before kick-off when St Helens prop Alex Walmsley was denied the chance to make his Test debut after succumbing to a virus.

Bennett instead gave Warrington second rower Ben Currie his debut, insisting the late change did not cause any major disruption.

"It's just football," he said. "It's like Sam getting injured. We've got a quality squad here so you just put another player in and get on with it."

Winger Jermaine McGillvary took his try tally to five in six matches in opening the scoring after only four minutes but also caught the eye with some terrific defence and some determined relieving runs that were appreciated by the hard-working forwards.

The Kangaroos got their first try on 22 minutes after second rower Matt Gillett wrong-footed Luke Gale on his way to the line before providing the final pass seven minutes later for Billy Slater to jink his way over.

Smith kicked one conversion as Australia led 10-4 at the break.

Replacement hooker James Roby was held up over the line after England profited from a second handling error by Slater and winger Ryan Hall had a sight of the line before being bundled into the corner flag by debutant Dane Gagai and Slater.

The game was finally settled five minutes from the end when second rower Elliott Whitehead was penalised for a ball steal and Smith kicked the goal that opened up a two-score lead before centre Josh Dugan swooped on an attacking kick from Widdop to sprint 80 minutes for Australia's third try.