England Head Coach Shaun Wane today names a 40-player extended England Men’s squad to prepare for international Rugby League in 2023.
Drawn from eight Betfred Super League clubs, the squad includes a total of 20 players who are previously uncapped for England, although 13 of those have featured for England Knights in the last four years as focus turns to youth with the next Rugby League World Cup – being hosted in France in 2025 – on the horizon.
The current Steve Prescott Man of Steel leader George Williams is one of eight players named from the in-form Super League table-toppers Warrington Wolves, with Josh Thewlis, Matty Nicholson and Danny Walker all being selected after featuring for England Knights last season.
Also promoted from the Knights set-up are Hull KR duo Mikey Lewis and Jez Litten, who join Jordan Abdull as three Rovers representatives in the squad. Abdull – who is hot on the heels on Williams in the Man of Steel race – debuted for England back in 2021 in Perpignan.
Will Pryce (Huddersfield Giants), Ethan Havard (Wigan Warriors) and Tyler Dupree (Salford Red Devils) are the other three players who come into the Senior squad following impressive showings last October for Paul Anderson’s Knights.
Three of the Betfred Super League’s top five try-scorers have also been named – Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons), Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors) and Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves).
Seven of Wane’s 2022 World Cup squad are omitted, among them captain Sam Tomkins who will retire from Rugby League at the end of 2023 and Wigan Warriors’ Mike Cooper who will miss the rest of the season through injury. Wane will also be without any players from the NRL for the upcoming mid-season international.
They aren’t the only notable absentees with in form Super League players like the league’s top try scorer Josh Charnley left out as well as impressive Hull KR forward James Batchelor.
But there is one forward in particular whose admission surprised former England international Luke Gale.
Gale said that he felt his former Leeds Rhinos teammate Cameron Smith should have been named.
Super League’s top tackler with a terrific skill level that saw him produce a sensational assist against Catalans Dragons seemed a shoe in after Morgan Knowles’ ban but it wasn’t to be.
Gale was left surprised taking to social media to say:
“Congrats to all 40 England players named today love the youthfulness of the squad.
“But gotta feel for Cam Smith he’s taken his form to a new level this year and deserved to be in that squad!”