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Five players who will break into the England squad in 2024

The 2023 season has finally reached its conclusion, but all eyes are now locked on next year as everyone involved in Rugby League now awaits the start of the next campaign. 

This time last year, England suffered a devastating loss to Samoa in the World Cup semi-final, however fast-forward 12 months and Shaun Wane’s side have blown France away in a mid-season international and won a home test series against Tonga in convincing fashion, as they secured a series whitewash.

Furthermore, Wane has highlighted his belief that this season has been a chance to lay the foundations for success in the future, with the newly established international calendar. Wane’s side were set to take on Samoa in a test series next year, with the RFL now looking for a new opponent but on the bright side there is talk of an Ashes series; all before the World Cup in 2026.

This season has also seen many younger players cut their teeth in the test arena, with the likes of Mikey Lewis, Harry Smith, Matty Ashton and Harry Newman all impressing at the highest level; however some players have brought an end to their international careers. All of these have given Shaun Wane plenty of food for thought about how his side will look next year.

With that in mind, Serious About Rugby League has looked around the England player pool to find the five players we think could break into Shaun Wane’s squad next season:

Ethan Havard

The young Wigan Warriors middle has had an injury-spoiled campaign in 2023, but when he was fit he showed how good he is currently, but also displayed heaps of potential. The young prop forward is already an experienced Super League player, racking up 77 appearances in Cherry and White-an impressive figure considering he is still just 23 years old; and he has already been tested on the international stage, earning his one and only cap against France in the mid-season test. If he stays fit this season, he could be in for a big year and this could see him regain the starting shirt for England.

Kai Pearce-Paul 

Kai Pearce-Paul is another young player with experience far beyond his years. In his four seasons in Cherry and White, he amassed 61 appearances and has also featured in a World Cup. Whilst he has shown plenty of promise during his time at Wigan, his move to the Newcastle Knights in the NRL should allow him to unlock his full potential, and with the international retirement of Elliott Whitehead, Pearce-Paul could easily step into Wane’s side.

Will Pryce

Kai Pearce-Paul isn’t the only Englishman joining the Newcastle Knights this off-season, as Huddersfield Giants back Will Pryce has also swapped Super League for a shot in the NRL with the Knights. He-like his new team mate Pearce-Paul-could flourish into a fantastic player down under, and if so could really push for a spot in the England set-up. He was reportedly in Wane’s thoughts for this Autumn series against Tonga, but was ruled out through injury, so he’s not far off already.

Andy Ackers

The new Leeds Rhinos signing was included in Wane’s 40-man wider squad, however he was a surprise omission from both the mid-season test and the Tonga series. Ackers has been a crucial cog in the Salford spine, and his move to Headingley should see him go up a level next year. He has also impressed when selected for England, where he held the nine shirt throughout the World Cup last year. Wane is gifted with quality hookers, with Daryl Clark, Kruise Leeming and Danny Walker all at his disposal, but if Ackers play’s his best rugby in a Rhinos shirt he will be a hard man to ignore.

Tom Holroyd 

Another man from Wane’s 40-man squad who was unlucky to see limited international action this season was Tom Holroyd. He was probably a victim of his side’s poor season, as he was one of the bright sparks in an otherwise dark year for the Rhinos. A powerful ball carrier with an eye for the line, Holroyd could be the perfect international test prop.

Honourable mentions

There are still plenty of talented players who could break into Shaun Wane’s squad this year who we think deserve a mention. These are:

Sam Walters-a bright prospect who was one of the Rhinos best performers last season, and should improve leaps and bounds in this new look Wigan pack.

Kruise Leeming-another member of the new Wigan pack, Leeming’s time down under will have made him a better player, and he will be hungry to prove himself after his dramatic exit from Headingley.

Elliott Minchella-The Hull KR forward was one of the best players for the Robins last season, and was unlucky to miss out on England selection this year. He has plenty of competition for the 13 jersey, but could he finally break into the squad?

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