This past week saw Shaun Wane confirm the 24-man squad that will take on Tonga in the three end of season internationals and whilst there was plenty of stars included among the squad, some players were snubbed leaving fans confused with the selection process.
Wane needs to be given some credit as England do have a great pool of players to pick from that you could easily have a starting 13 with players that did not receive the call-up on this occasion.
Below is a side of those that were unlucky not to have been given the international nod this time around.
FULL BACK – Jack Walker
Jack Welsby is surely the correct choice for the number one spot and will be for next few World Cups, but the other Jack W is the second choice in my opinion. Walker joined Hull KR to replace Lachlan Coote, the Scottish international forced into medical retirement, and Walker made his first appearance for KR this season against Catalans Dragons in which he impressed. He went on to make nine Super League appearances since then for the East side of Hull scoring five tries and averaging 5.5 metres per carry.
WING – Josh Charnley
The former Warrington Wolves winger scored 26 tries this season and was going toe to toe with Tom
Johnstone every week. He also topped the league chart in clean breaks and came fourth in the
metres chart. The 32-year-old is unlucky to not get his first call up since 2014.
CENTRE – Mark Percival
The 29-year-old has had injury issues in the past but has shown his skill this season with nine tries, 53 goals and 92 tackle busts in 19 appearances. He has not played for England since 2018 and probably will not again but has done enough this season to consider himself unfortunate not to make the squad, particularly given the injuries elsewhere in this position.
CENTRE – Oliver Gildart
Jake Wardle would be the obvious choice if he wasn’t injured and someone Shaun Wane would have surely selected, instead Oliver Gildart could be an option based on what he has to bring to an England squad. With the experience he has picked up in his eight-year professional career, including time down under in the NRL, Gildart impressed in his handful of games with Leigh. He will join Hull KR next year so he could start his fight to put on that England shirt on again from 2024.
WING – Adam Swift
Adam Swift has been looked over for seasons now, but the 30-year-old recorded his best try-scoring Super League season this year with 19 tries from 24 appearances. He also made over 2,850 metres
this season. More impressive was his spell in which he scored 14 tries in 11 straight games from the 4th of June to the 8th of September.
STAND OFF – Jordan Abdull
Jonny Lomax would have been an obvious choice here bar his injury however Abdull is a man that’s returning from injury and saw a return to action as Hull KR headed into the playoffs. His early season form saw him leading the Man of Steel points voting and he’d bring an in play kicking game that is second to none to Wane’s side.
SCRUM HALF – Lewis Dodd
Lewis Dodd was unlucky that he did not get the call this season with what he can do. He picked up
eight tries this season and appeared in every game for St Helens this season. He made 131 attacking
kicks and 258 kicks in general play. He also has big game pedigree as seen through his infamous drop goal against Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge.
PROP – Mikołaj Olędzki
The Polish born Prop was in a side that underperformed this year, but he is still one of the best Prop forwards England can pick from. With an average of 8.26 metres per carry and 1800 metres, that shows that he could do a job to combat the Tonga outfit, one that is notorious for the size of it’s pack.
HOOKER – Andy Ackers
The new Leeds Rhinos signing has been a standout for Salford for two years consistently. He is high up in the marker tackles with 127 and he leads the runs from dummy half stat with 178 runs. He also was close to getting over 700 tackles this season averaging just under 35 tackles per game.
PROP – Oliver Partington
Another Salford player possibly on his way out, Oliver Partington has been a brilliant addition to the
Red Devils squad. With over 250 carries and 1200 metres, Partington has been a crucial part of this
side this season. He could have made it in as 13 such is his ball playing ability but the depth at loose forward forces Partington into a role at prop.
SECOND ROW – Joe Batchelor
It’s hard to understand why he is not in this squad. St Helens’ back row is one of the best about and that involves this man. He obviously did not have the best season with playing 10 less games than in 2022 but he still brings something different to any team he puts the shirt on for and could count himself unlucky, as could his brother James over at Hull KR.
SECOND ROW – Jack Hughes
At the start of the season it would be hard to imagine a situation in which you’d be backing Jack Hughes to be in the England squad but watching this Leigh side this year has been a breath of fresh air. He has not been the standout player for Leigh by any stretch, but he brings a side of rugby that is under appreciated whilst gaining as many metres as possible to let his faster players progress. A true workhorse and someone who can lead, as exemplified when he skippered Warrington.
LOOSE FORWARD – Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith had a hard time starting out with his name’s sake being the legend that he is but Smith has set his name in Super League so far. He has scored seven tries this season and has made he most appearances in a Super League season this year. He took the ball in 448 times, ran for 2,412 metres and nearly broke 100 tackles, being 31 tackles off the top spot. He is unlucky due to Morgan Knowles and Morgan Smithies being so highly rated that he does not get in this conversation, but he should.