England hit with major injury concern

Warrington Wolves winger Josh Thewlis and now former Wigan Warriors loose-forward Morgan Smithies have been drafted into the England squad ahead of the final test against Tonga at the home of Leeds Rhinos, the newly renamed Headingley Stadium.

This isn’t because Shaun Wane is taking Tonga lightly after winning the first two tests to secure the series. This is due to injuries piling up for England.

Going into the first game they lost one of their biggest stars in the shape of Dom Young with the winger suffering an infection before landing in the UK.

To compound this, after the first test Morgan Knowles was ruled out with injury and was soon joined by St Helens teammate Tommy Makinson.

He is almost certain to miss the third test whilst Victor Radley is injured as well opening the door for Smithies to feature.

It is certain that halfback and skipper George Williams will feature with Shaun Wane full of praise of his halfback options in the past: “When you consider we’ve got George and we’ve got Jonny to come into the mix as well and there’s other halves, up and coming halves playing really well.

“I thought them two had a real good combination and that’s because days and days and weeks together where we’re repping things in training and that’s what happens in these camps and that’s where we get the benefit from.

“I’m sure Wigan and Hull KR will get two very accomplished players when they go back to their clubs in a few weeks time and that’s the benefit of international rugby.”

With no Williams, the captaincy has been on Welsby and Wane was full of praise: “I’m not sure if he’s a captained his club yet and to go straight into captain England, the way he led, the way he spoke in meetings was absolutely outstanding.

“I was really, really impressed with what he did and I think when George is 28, when George finishes, whatever that is, Jack’s a ready-made captain for the future.

“What this group of players have done is just carry on from the World Cup. It was the best six weeks of my life this week and last week have been immense.

“The players are enjoying it and they want to stick together for longer and that’s what culture we have in this England squad.”