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Five candidates to replace George Williams in the halves for England

With the news of George Williams’ suspension being not only upheld but doubled it now means that England will be without their captain and chief playmaker for two of the three tests against Tonga.

Warrington Wolves’ talented number six found himself picking up a one game ban for a shoulder charge committed against St Helens and upon appeal he was deemed not only unsuccessful, but frivolous, meaning the ban now increases to two games.

It’s a devastating end to a disappointing season for Williams, especially when it started with such huge promise with eight wins on the bounce for Warrington, mainly in thanks to Williams’ incredible form.

It’s also a major blow for Shaun Wane and England, as well as the fans who are now robbed of seeing one of the world’s best on the world stage, but who will replace him?

Williams skippered England in the halves alongside Wigan Warriors’ Harry Smith during the mid-season international, but who will occupy the six and seven shirts when England face Tonga on October 22nd?

Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors)

He’s the incumbent in the shirt and has to be leader in the clubhouse for a spot in the halves after an incredible season that has just got better and better. A major criticism of Smith was his kicking off the tee but he’s tidied that up and went seven from seven against Hull KR in the playoff semi-final.

That also fails to account for his in-play kicking which is arguably the best in Super League, he looked to be nailed on as one of the first names on Shaun Wane’s team sheet.

Jonny Lomax (St Helens)

Lomax has been one of Super League’s best players over an extended number of years and it was no different in 2023. He didn’t play back in April and was a shock omission from the World Cup squad but he could be the experienced head that Wane would want to partner Smith.

Lewis Dodd (St Helens)

If Wane wants to look to the future then he might opt for another youngster in the halves with Lomax’s playing partner Lewis Dodd. Pairing Dodd and Smith would mark a bold strategy by Wane given the lack of international experience from the pair, but Dodd brings big game experience – his winning drop goal in the World Club Challenge being all the proof necessary.

Jack Welsby (St Helens)

Welsby is a standout at full-back but many fans would be eager to see him in the halves and there might not be better justifications for Shaun Wane than experimenting whilst his captain Williams is out. For a period Sam Tomkins flicked between full-back and the halves for England and Welsby could well do the same should Wane want.

Mikey Lewis (Hull KR)

Lewis would be a bit of a wildcard pick because that is exactly what he is, a wildcard player who can create something out of nothing. He was surprisingly left out of the matchday squad against France in April but has certainly developed his game since then and could be the spark that Shaun Wane wants in his spine.

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