Connect with us

Super League

Predicting the England team for the 2026 Rugby League World Cup

Super League

With the mid-season international fixture between England and France approaching, planning is beginning for the 2026 World Cup2026 World Cup. A number of established Super League stars will be hoping to force their way into Shaun Wane’s plans as England attempt to lift international Rugby League’s biggest prize. 

With several England stalwarts reaching the end of their international careers, there are plenty of opportunities for young hopefuls to stake a claim. Wane will be hoping that his star players can navigate the fluctuations of form and fitness to arrive at the tournament in prime condition.

As the clock begins to tick down and the tournament comes into view on the horizon, we take a look at 13 potential starters for England when the tournament gets underway in 2026.

QUIZ: Can you name these 10 English Internationals?

1 of 10


Jack Welsby

Credit: Imago Images

Already a regular in the England team, at the relatively young age of 23 years old, St Helens’ Jack Welsby looks set to be a mainstay for the England side for years to come. Welsby made a try scoring debut in an England shirt during the 2021 World Cup, scoring in England’s opening match against Samoa.

Domestically, Welsby has already won plenty of silverware. He lifted the 2020 Grand Final with Saints, scoring a dramatic try in the final seconds of the game to seal the victory. He also won the 2021 Challenge Cup, the Grand Final in 2021 and 2022 and was part of the side which won the World Club Challenge in Australia in 2023.

He has 59 tries in 109 appearances for the Saints and, barring injury, is a shoe-in to start at full-back in 2026.

Dom Young

Credit: Imago Images

Dom Young is another player who burst into the international scene in England’s World Cup opener against Samoa. Young was relatively unknown in England, having left for the NRL without making a huge impression in Super League. However, his name was on everyone’s lips after his debut.

He scored two tries in a 60-6 demolition of Samoa, and repeated the feat in England’s next game against France. He is a regular feature in the NRL and has scored 51 tries in 60 appearances in spells with the Sydney Roosters and the Newcastle Knights.

Born in 2001, Young is another who should have a long and distinguished England career. He is almost certain to line up on the wing in 2026.

Jake Wardle

Super League

Credit: Imago Images

The Huddersfield Giants academy product, Jake Wardle, is now a regular in the Wigan Warriors side. Wardle joined the Warriors in 2023 and has impressed during his time at the DW Stadium. He was a crucial part of the Wigan side which lifted the 2023 Grand Final, as he won the man of the match in the final against the Catalans Dragons. Wardle also played in the Warriors World Club Challenge triumph in 2024.

Wardle made his England debut in 2022, scoring a try in the game against the Combined Nations All Stars. At 25, he has a long career ahead of him and is certain to be a regular in the England set up now that he is playing at the highest level with the Wigan Warriors, competing regularly for trophies.

Toby King

Super League

Credit: Imago Images

Warrington Wolves are one of the form sides in Super League this year and Toby King has been crucial to their resurgence under Sam Burgess. King has made 11 appearances so far this year and has 61 Super League tries in 166 appearances. He has bagged five tries for the Wire so far in 2024, with two try assists.

King will face stiff competition for the spot from individuals such as Harry Newman, however, he had great ability and could be a regular for England. Newman has struggles with fitness concerns in recent years and has to prove that he can remain healthy for a prolonged period to earn a place in the side.

If King can maintain his current form, he is one of the best two centres in Super League.

Tom Johnstone

Tom Johnstone Super League

Credit: Imago Images

Tom Johnstone is unfortunate not to have more England caps to his name already. The flying winger has been a prolific try scorer in Super League, across spells with Wakefield Trinity and the Catalans Dragons, and finished the 2023 season at the highest scorer in Super League. A succession of serious injuries hampered his early career, and he has struggled to displace players such as the experienced Tommy Makinson at times.

However, with Makinson approaching the end of his career, it is time for Johnstone to become an England regular. Johnstone will return Wakefield Trinity for the 2025 season.  At 28 years of age, he is just coming into his prime. The former Super League Young Player of the Year should be on the plane for the 2026 and starting for England.

George Williams (C)

Credit: Imago Images

George Williams is England’s best half-back and the captain of the side. Assuming he stays fit and healthy, he will certainly lead the side out in the 2026 World Cup. He is an instrumental part of both the Warrington and England sides and, on his day, can tear any defence apart.

Williams has played nine times for Warrington this season, scoring six tries. He was forming a dynamite partnership with youngster, Leon Hayes, before he was cruelly struck down with injury. Over the course of his Super League career, he has 82 tries in 213 appearances.

Williams is beginning to show his best form since returning to the NRL. He will be 31 in 2026, and will have significant big game experience. Could Williams lift the trophy for England? Only time will tell.

Harry Smith

Super League

Credit: Imago Images

At 24 years old, Harry Smith has already achieved a great deal in the game of Rugby League. He has won the Super League Grand Final, the Challenge Cup and the World Club Challenge, as well as being nominated for the IRL Golden Boot award for his performances in the 2023 season.

Smith is the perfect half to compliment Williams. His game is about consistency, precision and organisation, compared to the more mercurial talents of Williams. He made his England debut in the 2023 series against Tonga, and was an important part of England’s series winning side.

Smith will be a crucial part of England’s 2026 Campaign.

Matty Lees

Credit: Imago Images

St Helens prop Matty Lees is already one of Super League’s best. He represented the England Knights before making his England debut in 2022, playing three times and scoring once for his country.

Domestically, he has already won everything available to him. He is a multiple Grand Final, Challenge cup and World Club Challenge winner with the Saints. With 126 Super League appearances under his belt at the age of 26, he has a vast amount of experience already.

He is just coming into his prime years as a prop forward and looks set to a crucial part of England’s World Cup side.

Brad O’Neill

Credit: Imago Images

At just 21 years of age, Brad O’Neill has the world at his feet. He has already won a Grand Final, World Club Challenge and a League Leaders Shield and could add a Challenge Cup to the trophy cabinet this weekend, when Wigan face off with the Warrington Wolves.

The Wigan academy product has achieved all of this within his first 53 Super League appearances. With the World Cup two years away, it is exciting to see what will have achieved by the time the tournament comes around.

Tyler Dupree

Super League

Credit: Imago Images

Tyler Dupree’s Rugby League career looked to be drifting when he left the Leeds Rhinos. As he dropped into the lower leagues, he considered quitting the game. However, the young prop is now back at the top and looks set to stay there for a long time.

He joined the Wigan Warriors midway through the 2023 season, having impressed with the Salford Red Devils. He went on to be part of a title winning Wigan side and the successful World Club Challege bid in 2024.

He has made his England debut while with Wigan and looks like an international standard prop.

Joe Batchelor

Credit: Imago Images

Matty Nicholson

Matty Nicholson Warrington Wolves

Credit: Imago Images

Having become a mainstay of this season’s Warrington side, Matty Nicholson has become one of the hottest properties in Rugby League. He has impressed so much in his eight appearances this season that he is reportedly on the verge of a move to the NRL.

Nicholson is yet to make his England debut, however that will surely change soon. If Nicholson can continue his development he should have a long and fruitful England career ahead of him.

Victor Radley

Credit: Imago Images

Victor the Inflictor Radley has been a popular addition to the England set up since joining the squad ahead of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Radley qualifies for England through his father and has been a consistent performer in the NRL and in an England shirt.

At just 26 years old, Radley is more than young enough to make the 2026 World Cup squad. If his form and fitness hold, he should be around beyond that as well.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

Must See

More in Super League