Three Saints players named in England Knights squad
Saints' trio Jack Welsby, Matty Lees and Aaron Smith have all been named in head coach Paul Anderson's England Knights squad of 27 players to prepare for international competition in 2021 and beyond.
Discussions around Knights' fixtures for 2021 are underway and Anderson’s charges will also be joining sessions with Shaun Wane’s senior squad during the summer.
Players from nine Betfred Super League clubs are represented, with four of them new to the Knights' set-up. Anderson wants to help all of them bridge the gap between domestic and senior international competition.
Anderson said: “Through the Knights' programme, we’re investing in the future of England Rugby League.
''The Knights is part of a performance pathway from schoolboy level upwards and I am excited about the prospect of working with the players who have reached this stage of their development. My job is to prepare them for the next step – the senior international team.
“In the Knight set-up we’ll be focusing on helping players make the transition from domestic to international competition, which means exposing them to the critical differences between what they experience day-in and day-out with their clubs and what they can expect as England internationals. The Knights is about developing talent, preparing well and competing hard.
“For some players the chance to represent the senior side may come at RWLC2021, for others it might be 2025. Shaun is very clear about what he wants and expects from the Knights, and I’m very clear about supporting him.”
Wigan Warriors supply the most players with five, while Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos each have four representatives. Castleford Tigers St Helens and Warrington Wolves each have three players in the squad, with the remainder coming from Catalans Dragons (2), Hull FC (2) and Hull KR (1).
England Knights squad (* denotes new selection)
Matty Ashton, Rob Butler (both Warrington Wolves), Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons), Matty English (Huddersfield Giants), Joe Cator* (Hull FC), Ethan Havard (Wigan Warriors), Jordan Lane* (Hull FC), George Lawler (Hull KR), Matty Lees (St Helens), Kruise Leeming (Leeds Rhinos), Darnell McIntosh (Huddersfield Giants), Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors), Alex Mellor*, Mikolaj Oledzki (both Leeds Rhinos), Jacques O’Neill*(Castleford Tigers), Oliver Partington (Wigan Warriors), Danny Richardson (Castleford Tigers), Aaron Smith (St Helens), Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos), Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies (both Wigan Warriors), Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants), Jack Welsby (St Helens), Matt Whitley (Catalans Dragons), Oliver Wilson (Huddersfield Giants).
JONNY Lomax is hot on the heels of early leader Zak Hardaker in the battle for top spot in the Man of Steel race.
The Saints' half back has picked up nine points from four matches - one less than the Warriors' ace who claimed maximum points for the second week in succession.
Full back Hardaker’s man of the match performance against former club Castleford Tigers leaves him on 10 points, one ahead of both Lomax and Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons).
Lomax received three points for his influential display in Saints’ victory over Huddersfield Giants but Tomkins missed out for the first time this season after Catalans lost to Warrington Wolves.