Following the cancellation of the Ashes series against Australia at the end of this year, a match-up against the Exiles is surely an option for England to boost preparations for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
So, should this happen, what would a carefully selected Exiles team of all the best overseas talent in Super League look like? Here is my guess…
Full-back: Bevan French
French was the early pace-setter in this year’s race for the Man of Steel award. The speedsters switch to full-back proved to be a masterstroke by Wigan head coach Adrian Lam and his undoubted international class would cause England problems.
Wingers: Mahe Fonua & Ken Sio
Experienced wingers Fonua and Sio would ensure a tough test out wide for whoever Shaun Wane picks. Both are strong, elusive runners and have proved their class over the years both in Super League and the NRL.
Centres: Kevin Naiqama & Konrad Hurrell
Strong and dominant is the words I would use to describe these two. Internationals for Fiji and Tonga respectively, Naiqama and Hurrell arrived in Super League last year and are two of the best overseas centres the competition has seen.
Stand-off: James Maloney
Maloney is a world-class talent who could still cut it at the very top. He was playing in the State of Origin series less than a year ago and has already made his mark in Super League. The ideal opponent for England’s starting halves.
Scrum-half: Aidan Sezer
From a player who competed in the 2019 State of Origin to one who lined up in last year’s NRL Grand Final. Sezer has transformed Huddersfield in the little time he has been at the club and like the aforementioned Maloney, is a world-class player on his day.
Props: Sam Kasiano & Adam Cuthbertson
Former Kiwi and Samoa international Kasiano certainly provides the size in the forwards, while rejuvenated Leeds prop Cuthbertson brings the flair. Both are direct and have lethal offloading games, attributes that will keep the England pack on their toes.
Hooker: Joey Lussick
Lussick is an overlooked talent. The 24-year-old was one of the main reasons Salford got to Old Trafford last year and should be playing international rugby league. The former Manly hooker is quick, crafty and a tired defence’s worst nightmare.
Second-row: Manu Ma’u & Sonny Bill Williams
No shortage of international pedigree in this back-row. Hull FC new boy Ma’u has the nickname ‘Tongan Terminator’ for a reason, while global superstar SBW will no doubt find his best form at Toronto as the season progresses.
Loose-forward: Ben Murdoch-Masila
Warrington juggernaut BMM is journeying home soon after a superb Super League career. A departing appearance for the Exiles could be on the cards before then and he would be more than worthy, having become a regular for Tonga in recent years.
Salford’s maverick half-back is proven at international level with Tonga and would provide a different dimension off the bench.
Satae has provided great impact and go-forward off the bench since signing for Hull FC and would be a good option for the Exiles.
Seumanufagai’s impact at Leeds has gone under the radar and his strong running game from the bench would provide valuable metres.
Arguably Hull FC’s best signing so far in 2020, Sao can put dents in any defence and has the ability to play in the front-row, back-row and loose-forward.