Tomorrow Shaun Wane and stars from Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos will begin the road to the 2026 World Cup with the first game of the series against Tonga held at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium.
This marks a triumphant return for former St Helens boss Kristian Woolf as he takes his Tonga side to England as they meet for the first time since the dramatic 2017 World Cup semi-final between the two.
There has already been a lot made about team selection especially pertaining to the halfbacks.
This is because George Williams has been banned for the first two games of the series despite being England skipper.
He was banned for one game after a shoulder charge before an appeal was deemed frivolous culminating in a further game’s ban.
Jack Welsby has been selected as his replacement as captain but there was discussion if he could play stand-off as he did in the World Cup.
This would create another problem for England at fullback so it was much more likely that Mikey Lewis would start at six.
This has been confirmed with Hull KR tweeting the news that Lewis has been given his first England cap having come up short against France earlier this year.
On the announcement of the squad, Head Coach Shaun Wane said:
“I’m really pleased and confident with the squad I’ve selected for this opening fixture against Tonga. We’ve had a strong week since arriving in camp and we are heading into this weekend focused with a job to do. We hope that the fans will turn out in their numbers to help us over the line.”
England Squad v Tonga – Sunday 22 October, 230pm, Totally Wicked Stadium
John Bateman (Wests Tigers), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants), Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons), Toby King (Wigan Warriors), Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees (both St Helens), Mikey Lewis (Hull KR), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons), Robbie Mulhern (Leigh Leopards), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters), Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Jack Welsby (St Helens), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders)