Connect with us

Rugby League News

Predicting the England squad for the mid-season international

The England mid-season international is fast approaching! Shaun Wane’s side currently have a friendly pencilled in against France, but how will the team look?

A double-header against France was confirmed earlier this week meaning players will now be looking to impress and earn themselves a call-up.

Last year, Shaun Wane blooded in a whole host of new faces following the World Cup disappointment, with the likes of Ethan Havard, Ash Handley, Matty Ashton and Tyler Dupree all winning their first cap.

The Autumn series against the Pacific Island nation also saw some new players burst onto the international stage, notably Mikey Lewis, but it also saw the likes of Tom Johnstone and Daryl Clark return to the international fold. Furthermore, a big group of the English players in the NRL returned to the side.

Whilst Wane has plenty of food for thought after the four tests last season, there have been plenty of English players putting their hand up this Super League season which will undoubtedly create a selection headache for the England boss.

But who will he choose? Here is our best bet at a potential England team for the mid-season international:

Predicting the England squad for the mid-season international

(NB: No NRL-based players named due to availability)

Fullback: Jack Welsby (C)

England v Tonga Picture by Allan McKenzie/ – 28/10/2023 – Rugby League – Men s International – England v Tonga – John Smith s Stadium, Huddersfield, England – England captain Jack Welsby. Huddersfield John Smith s Stadium England Copyright: x xSWpix.comxt/axPhotographyxHubxLtdxAllanxMcKenzie/SWpix.comx SWP-2337-0033

Captain Jack has yet again been one of the standout players in Super League this year, but his time as England skipper in the Autumn has clearly boosted his leadership credentials. We all know the X-factor he brings to any team, and with George Williams injury issues he might need to step into the captaincy role again. He’s (position irrelevant) the first name on Wane’s team sheet.

Wingers: Tom Johnstone and Ash Handley 

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ – 29/04/2023 – Rugby League – Rugby League Mid-Season International – England v France – Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England – Ash Handley fends off Tanguy Zenon.

England have a wealth of riches on the wings, but with no Dom Young again it gives Johnstone and Handley a chance to nail their spots down. Johnstone returned to the international fold in the Tonga series, and he was one of England’s better players in the series. He’s also been in decent form for Catalans, which should help him get the nod for England. On the other wing, Handley is arguably the form player in Super League right now, and is scoring tries for fun. His brilliant tries against Salford and Hull KR show he is a proper attacking threat from anywhere on the pitch, and this should put him in the forefront of Wane’s mind.

Centres: Harry Newman and Jake Wardle 

Without Herbie Farnworth again, Harry Newman and Jake Wardle should take the 3 and 4 shirts in the mid-season test. Harry Newman finally made his England debut in the series against Tonga, and he improved game on game. He looked comfortable at test level during the series, and his form for Leeds so far this season should see him keep his place in the team. Alongside him will likely be Jake Wardle. The Wigan man missed the Tonga series through injury, but his stellar performances for the Cherry and Whites last season showed he is arguably the best centre in the league, and he has carried on from where he left off last season too.

Half-backs: Mikey Lewis and Harry Smith

George Williams injury issues this season mean Wane might turn to Lewis and Smith once again as his half-backs. The pair were brilliant together in the two opening games against Tonga, and if selected once more they will only carry on this solid partnership. Lewis has been in fantastic form so far this season, and has been a real standout in a strong Hull KR team. His abrasive, passionate displays are exactly what you need to succeed on the test stage, but this could help him cement a spot in the team. Harry Smith was the Man of the Series against Tonga after three very solid performances, and his form for Wigan should give Wane plenty of reason to retain him in the England squad.

Props: Luke Thompson and Matty Lees 

Wigan forward Luke Thompson has seemingly settled into life at the DW very well, and this should see him line up along Matty Lees in the England front row. Thompson’s injury problems saw him unable to play for England last year, but since his return to the UK he has shown what an asset he can be to any team with some powerful ball-carrying. Matty Lees has also shook off a freak lung injury to put in some solid showings, and this coupled with his displays against Tonga should keep him in the frame to start for England.

Hooker: Daryl Clark

England v Tonga Picture by Olly Hassell/ – 22/10/2023 – Rugby League – International Test Series – England v Tonga – The Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England – England s Daryl Clark thanks the fans and supporters after England s victory in the first match of the England v Tonga test series at the Totally Wicked Stadium Copyright: x xSWpix.comxt/axPhotographyxHubxLtdxOllyxHassell/SWpix.comx SWP-2335-0107

Clark’s move to St Helens has brought the best out of him, and this should see him retain the number 9 jersey this year. He has found a new dynamic to his game, but his influence on the St Helens attack should be showing Wane what Clark can do. The former Wire man also started all three tests against Tonga and was decent in all three games.

Second-rowers: Liam Farrell and Matt Whitley 

St Helens v Leigh Leopards Picture by Alex Whitehead/ – 01/03/2024 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League: Round 3 – St Helens v Leigh Leopards – Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England – St Helens Matt Whitley after the game with his player of the match medal. Copyright: x xSWpix.comxt/axPhotographyxHubxLtdxAlexxWhitehead/SWpix.comx SWP-2386-0030

With no John Bateman or Kai Pearce-Paul, it gives Wane the perfect excuse to give Liam Farrell a proper return to the England side, and he could line up alongside in-form St Helens man Matt Whitley. Farrell only made a brief five minute cameo in the second test against Tonga, but his form for Wigan in the past few seasons should give Wane no choice but to turn to Farrell this summer. Alongside him, Matt Whitley could be handed a test debut after his stellar showings for St Helens. The former Catalans man has hit the ground running for his new employers, and has brought over his typical try-scoring prowess with three in six games. This should certainly please Wane, and could earn him his first call-up.

Loose forward: Morgan Knowles 

With Sydney Roosters forward Victor Radley still down under, it gives Morgan Knowles to stake a claim for the starting 13 shirt. The St Helens man has been typically decent so far this season, but he will be hungry for a proper go at England this year after injury ruled him out of the second and third tests against Tonga.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Michael

    April 18, 2024 at 9:40 am

    As a Warrington supporter

    Matty Ashton ??
    James Harrison ??
    Ben Currie ??

    And thats not mentioning George Williams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Rugby League News