There are few forwards better than Luke Thompson on the planet at present.
The 2019 Super League Champion and Harry Sunderland Award winner has been tearing it up in the NRL in recent seasons and is one of the players being tipped to take on the captaincy at the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2023 after the retirement of Josh Jackson.
He played brilliantly off the bench on the opening two games of the Rugby League World Cup against Samoa and France and even picked up a try against the latter.
He was left out last week in the 17-try demolition of Greece as England won 94-4 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield. This was hardly a surprise with the likes of Elliot Whitehead and Sam Tomkins also rested.
However, whilst those who were rested have returned to the side for England’s first knockout clash of the tournament in the quarter-finals against Papua New Guinea at Wigan Warriors’ DW Stadium, Thompson is still surprisingly absent.
Perhaps this is down to managing an injury. Thompson’s thumb and wrist was heavily strapped when he took to the field against Samoa in the opening game so perhaps the prop is managing an injury to his hand.
This leans into a wider point that Wane may be wanting to keep him fresh for a potential semi-final against either Samoa or Tonga both of whom will bring big packs.
Either way, England will have to do without Thompson against the hard hitting Kumuls this weekend.