England Knights serve as a feeder team for the national team and with that it means plenty of talented players have come through since their revival in 2011.
Formerly the England A team, it had been an abandoned principle but found life in the early 2010s and has feature some iconic names since with the 2018 tour of Papua New Guinea featuring the team’s only ever loss.
Former Super League star and new Newcastle Knights signing Jackson Hastings has revealed how close he came to representing the Knights whilst still playing in the NRL for Manly during the 2018 season.
Speaking with James Graham he’s expressed his strong desire and even talked about what he was willing to do in order to play for the Knights, something he revealed on the former Saints podcast, The Bye Round.
“I was going to play for England Knights when I was still in Australia and not a lot of people know that. I was going to give up my eligibility prior to going to England.
“My Nan was still around at this point and a lot of English people don’t like the fact that Australian-born people had represented Great Britain, but mine went a lot deeper than that.
“I didn’t just wake up going ‘you know what Origin might be too hard, Australia might be too hard, let’s try my luck for England’. There’s too many good players for just a random person to walk in, and they proved that at the World Cup this year.
“For me it was deeper than that and representing the people that love where they’re from. My Nan was so proud that she was English, it was unbelievable. She was so patriotic and we had a conversation as a family one day about what I wanted to do.”
The subsequent Knights tour came in October and November of 2018 however by that point Hastings had signed for Salford and since returned home for the off-season meaning the logistics no longer worked.
“I was going to play for England Knights and it just didn’t eventuate. It was too hard, I was in Australia and they were flying to PNG so linking up was too hard.”
As mentioned during that tour the Knights lost the only game in their history as they drew the series one win a piece.
That fixture saw he likes of Nene Macdonald and Edwin Ipape, current Man of Steel favourite, among the reserves for PNG whilst England fielded a squad featuring plenty of Super League stars and players who have made full internationals.
Mikolaj Oledzki and Matty Lees both featured at the recent World Cup whilst both Tom Davies and Liam Sutcliffe have represented England in other games.