Soliola and Puletua to start for Exiles

Sia Soliola
Sia Soliola

SAINTS second rower Sia Soliola is the Exiles’ only ever-present going into the fourth match between the sides while six players are set to make their debuts

Exiles coach Brian McClennan has chosen an all-Australia-born back division for Friday’s international origin match against England.

It includes skipper Brett Hodgson, one of three Warrington players who will be appearing on their home ground, and Wigan’s goalkicking winger Pat Richards, who represents Ireland through his Dublin-born father.

Debutants will include Hull KR half-backs Michael Dobson and Travis Burns.

Dobson, who has been unfortunate to miss out in the previous two years, was set for a reunion with his old Rovers half-back partner Blake Green, now at Wigan, but he is sidelined through injury.

“It’s my first one so I’m looking forward to it,” Dobson said.

“I was 19th man for the second game last year.

“It’s disappointing for Blake but it gives Travis the opportunity to play and hopefully we both do well.

“It is going to help having played at club level together. We’ve both been injured at different times so we’re still a work in progress. We’re getting there but we’re definitely not the finished article.”

The other new faces are forwards Mickey Paea (Hull KR), Zeb Taia (Catalan Dragons), Harrison Hansen (Wigan) and Chris Bailey (London Broncos).

St Helens second rower Willie Manu and Widnes full-back Rhys Hanbury were the players omitted by coach McClennan from his 19-man squad.

The former Leeds and New Zealand Warriors coach said: “Our preparation has been good, the spirit’s excellent, confidence is high and we’ve got the players to do the job.

“England have got a very tough task ahead of them.

“We really want to produce a style of rugby that does the Exiles brand proud - the kind of rugby the Warrington fans are used to.

“I really hope they come out and support the match in huge numbers - even if they are supporting England.”

Exiles team: B Hodgson (Warrington, Aus, capt); J Monaghan (Warrington, Aus), S Menzies (Catalan Dragons, Aus), J Moon (Leeds, Aus), P Richards (Wigan, Ire); T Burns (Hull KR, Aus), M Dobson (Hull KR, Aus); K Leuluai (Leeds, Samoa), H L’Estrange (Bradford, Aus), T Puletua (St Helens, Samoa), S Soliola (St Helens, Samoa), T Waterhouse (Warrington, Aus), H Hansen (Wigan, Samoa).

Interchange: L Hohaia (St Helens, NZ), M Paea (Hull KR, Tonga), Z Taia (Catalan Dragons, Cook Islands), C Bailey (London Broncos, Aus).