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Predicting the England side to face France including four debutants


England will take on France at the end of the month with Shaun Wane expected to pick a very young side in the view of developing players for next year’s Ashes series and the 2026 World Cup.

With that in mind, it seems that it could be an incredibly hard team to predict with Wane undoubtedly set to balance the inexperience with a handful of senior players.

He has already made the admission that George Williams and Jack Welsby have “credit in the bank”, which would suggest that neither man will play. Not only will this mean that England play a new spine combination but there will likely also be a new captain.

Recent calls by Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott for Marc Sneyd to feature may fall upon deaf ears if Wane does opt for youth with Harry Smith and Mikey Lewis potentially set to continue their partnership from the series against Tonga.

With Wane and England expecting a strong France side, finding the balance between youth and a team that can still put up a strong performance will be key. Here are the 13 men that Serious About Rugby League predict will start that game on June 29th.

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How England could line up against France

Full-Back: Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves)

Warrington Wolves Matty Ashton applauds the fans after the game England

Credit: Imago Images

Shaun Wane will likely not have to think about his first-choice full-back for the next decade with Jack Welsby the clear number one but in his expected absence then Matty Ashton could be selected. Ashton plays on the wing for Warrington but is more than adept at full-back, just like teammate Josh Thewlis who would potentially be selected here but for an injury at present.

Wingers: Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos) and Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors)

Liam Marshall is undoubtedly the form winger in Super League at the moment but for the first few rounds, it was Ash Handley who was on fire. The Leeds Rhinos man starred in this same fixture last year when he scored a hattrick and in 2024 he’s made a habit of scoring incredible tries. As for Marshall, he tops the scoring charts with a whopping 15 tries in just 12 games.

Centres: Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos) and Jake Wardle (Wigan Warriors)


Credit: Imago Images

Shaun Wane has recently said that Harry Newman is the future of the England team so despite his form this campaign, it’s expected that he will play. Starting him would also allow him to partner Rhinos teammate Handley, whilst Jake Wardle could do so with Marshall on the left edge. A standout pair.

Half-Backs: Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors) and Mikey Lewis (Hull KR)

Why change a winning partnership? Smith and Lewis were both excellent back in the autumn against Tonga and their individual form this season has carried over too. Lewis has 15 assists and seven tries so far this season, whilst Smith has been integral to Wigan’s dominant start to the season and Challenge Cup victory.

Hooker: Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves)

Credit: Imago Images

Shaun Wane will face a tough task selecting his number nine with young options such as Walker and Hull KR’s Jez Litten being pushed by England World Cup starting nine Daryl Clark who is fresh off a hattrick against London. Walker shades the selection here though with his ability to play 80 minutes consistently and the fact he’s two years younger being the slimmest of deciding factors.

Props: Tyler Dupree (Wigan Warriors) and George Delaney (St Helens)

So far, the team has featured plenty of players who have already played for England and are actually relatively experienced, however that changes in the forward pack. Tyler Dupree is fast becoming one of the best props in Super League and it would be brilliant to see him partnered with someone like George Delaney, one of the most exciting young talents in the competition. If Wane has his eye on the 2026 World Cup then this duo need to be playing.

Second-Rowers: Junior Nsemba (Wigan Warriors) and Matty Nicholson (Warrington Wolves)

Challenge Cup

Credit: Imago Images

Similar to the props, these two men will be England’s future and need to be afforded experience now. Junior Nsemba has emerged as one of the competition’s young stars and Matty Nicholson is destined for the NRL with Canberra Raiders reportedly having signed him for 2025. Aged just 19 and 20, this pairing is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Loose Forward: Elliot Minchella (Hull KR)

Minchella would act as the senior voice in a very young forward pack but he’d be debuting himself anyway, however, he brings a leadership quality that is perhaps lacking in this forward pack. Appointed captain at Hull KR this season, he’s having a standout season and is surely worthy of an England call-up with the likes of Morgan Smithies down under and Morgan Knowles currently injured.

Predicted Starting 13 for England against France

FB: Matty Ashton
WG: Ash Handley
CE: Harry Newman
CE: Jake Wardle
WG: Liam Marshall
HBL Harry Smith
HB: Mikey Lewis
PR: Tyler Dupree
HK: Danny Walker
PR: George Delaney
SR: Junior Nsemba
SR: Matty Nicholson
LF: Elliot Minchella

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