Six Saints aces make England RL squad

England head coach Shaun Wane has named a 35-strong squad ahead of next Tuesday’s (April 13) training session at Leeds Beckett University – and precisely 200 days before England kick off RLWC2021 against Samoa at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on Saturday, October 23.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 11:00 am
Jonny Lomax is one of six Saints in the England squad

It included Saints veteran James Roby and team-mates Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival and Alex Walmsley, as well as former colleague, Luke Thompson, who now plays for Canterbury Bulldogs.

The session will be Wane’s first physical session with his players since his appointment more than 12 months ago, as preparation builds towards June’s mid-season international against the Combined Nations All Stars. Seven NRL-based players are included in the squad and, although they will not be at the Leeds Beckett session, they will have regular contact with the England coaching team.

One player who will be there is Salford Red Devils’ Kallum Watkins, who earned the last of his 25 international caps in the 2017 World Cup Final against Australia when he famously came within a Josh Dugan ankle tap of taking the game down to the wire.

At 35 years of age another veteran of the 2017 World Cup Final, St Helens skipper Roby, is the most experienced player in the squad and is one of six five Saints players included. Wigan Warriors also supply five players, while Warrington Wolves have six representatives.

The youngest player in the squad is 21 years old Harry Newman. The Leeds Rhinos centre is currently fighting his way back to fitness following a broken leg in 2020, but Shaun Wane insists that at this stage injury is no barrier to being involved with the squad.

England Head Coach, Shaun Wane, said: “I rate Harry Newman very highly; he’s a good chance of playing in the World Cup. We’ve got real strength in depth at centre – and at hooker and wing too.

“Names will come and go as the season unfolds, but the 35 players I’ve named reflect my current thinking. They are all capable of playing to an England standard. They know what’s expected at international level and the heights they must hit.

“We have a good mix of youth and experience, and age is no barrier. The thirty-somethings in the squad are playing some good rugby. And if a 17-year-old puts his hand up and shows me he’s got what it takes, he’ll be in.

“I watch every Super League game, every week, multiple times and I’m seeing some good things so far from England players. I keep a very close eye on the NRL too. Those players can’t join us at Leeds Beckett, but I’ll make sure they get the same information as the players who can.

“The session at Leeds is all about introducing players to my systems – how we’ll defend, how we’ll attack and so on. They are some of the best players around and they’ll get it very quickly. It’s an important part of our preparation for the mid-season international against the All Stars and for the World Cup too.”

England play Combined Nations All Stars at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday 25 June 25 – part of an historic double-header featuring the Men’s and Women’s teams. England Women face Wales at 6pm, before Shaun Wane takes charge of the England team for the first time at 8pm.

Tickets are on sale now via the RFL website, priced £20 for adults and £10 for under U16s. An initial 4,000 tickets are available, with the hope that further areas of the stadium will become available as social distancing requirements ease.

The squad in full

John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington Wolves), Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers), Herbie Farnworth (Brisbane Broncos), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos), Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors), Josh Griffin (Hull FC), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos), Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors), Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders), Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), Toby King (Warrington Wolves), Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax (both St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Mark Percival (St Helens), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington Wolves), James Roby (St Helens), Dan Sarginson (Salford Red Devils), Ryan Sutton (Canberra Raiders), Luke Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Kallum Watkins (Salford Red Devils), Elliott Whitehead, George Williams (both Canberra Raiders).