England coach Shaun Wane has named his 24 man squad including Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves stars for the series against Tonga.
But now that the 24 man squad had been confirmed, the question remains: who will be named in the 17 for the first game against Tonga in the first test.
Here is our team for the opening game.
Fullback: Jack Welsby
A pretty easy pick to start of with. Welsby is the only fullback in the squad but also Super League’s best fullback. The fullback started there against France but featured in the World Cup mostly at stand off. He now seems set for the number one shirt moving forward.
Wingers: Dom Young and Tommy Makinson
The two wingers who featured in the World Cup will likely have first dibs on the wing spots despite the great form of Tom Johnstone. Johnstone could perhaps make the 17 on form but the fact he has just featured in the Grand Final and picked up a few bangs meaning it makes sense to favour Makinson and the free scoring Young first.
Centres: Harry Newman and Toby King
With Jake Wardle, Herbie Farnworth and Mark Percival absent, Leeds star is finally set for his England debut in 2023 despite the recent criticisms of Shaun Wane. Toby King after an excellent season with Wigan Warriors is a shoe in. Both appear set to feature unless Wane elects to move Young or Makinson to centre.
Halfbacks: Mikey Lewis and Harry Smith
With George Williams suspended, this is a massive opportunity for Mikey Lewis after another terrific season. This could very well be an England halfback combination of the future. The only way we won’t see this is if Welsby is moved to six and someone like Makinson is named at fullback. Makinson featured at fullback against Greece last year.
Prop: Tom Burgess and Matty Lees
Tom Burgess is one of the best British players we have seen over the last two decades. The prop is still in great form in the NRL and was linked with moves to Leeds, Warrington and Wigan lately. He will be joined by Matty Lees who has emerged as Super League’s premier prop in recent years.
Hooker: Danny Walker
With two hookers in the squad, Shaun Wane has a choice between Warrington’s Danny Walker and Daryl Clark. With Walker starting against France and being first choice at Warrington, he will likely start.
Second-Rowers: John Bateman and Elliot Whitehead
Two NRL stars will likely combined in a star-studded backrow. They were both excellent in the World Cup with Bateman earning his NRL move on the back of the tournament.
Loose-Forward: Victor Radley
After debuting for England last year, Victor Radley will be difficult to dislodge from the 13 for the rest of the decade. He was excellent in last year’s tournament.
Substitutes: Morgan Knowles, Tyler Dupree, Chris Hill and Mike McMeeken
The big call Wane has is: will he carry a nine on the bench or will he use Radley as a back up nine. This would see Morgan Knowles come on at 13. His trust in Chris Hill will see him join Tyler Dupree on the bench whilst Mike McMeeken’s versatility is also a key selling point.