Following his announcement as head coach last month, we have picked a potential Shaun Wane England team to face Australia in the Ashes series at the end of the year.
1. Sam Tomkins
Tomkins has a strong relationship with Wane from his time at Wigan. The 30-year-old has started the season well for Catalans and will be benefitted from the fact his big rival for the fullback position, Zak Hardaker, is being used predominantly as a centre by Wigan this season.
2. Jermaine McGillvary
Pulling on that England shirt always brings the best out of McGillvary. A regular in the national team for a number of years now, his position could come under threat this year. Still, Wane will like his no-nonsense style and running power, so the Huddersfield winger should retain his place.
3. Mark Percival
Percival is arguably the unluckiest man of recent years when it comes to international selection. Despite his consistent top-drawer performances for Saints, he has been continuously overlooked for England. That should all change now with a coach who will pick players on form and in the right positions.
4. Oliver Gildart
Another player who knows Wane from his time at Wigan is Oliver Gildart. That, however, isn’t the reason he will be selected, because when fully fit and at the top of his game, he is almost unplayable. The 23-year-old had a dream England debut against the Kiwis in 2018 and will now look to kick on from that.
5. Tommy Makinson
Rated by many as Super League’s standout winger, Makinson is a shoo-in for selection on the wing. The 28-year-old is known around the world now after winning the 2018 Golden Boot and he has really kicked on since then, helping Saints storm to the title last year while finishing as the competition’s top try-scorer.
6. Jonny Lomax
Lomax played at fullback in the 2019 Great Britain tour but he deserves a shot in the halves for England this year. Arguably Super League’s best player for over a year now, the 29-year-old has been sensational for Saints and is more than capable of reproducing that form against the Aussies.
7. George Williams
Hoping to get regular game-time at Canberra, Williams will nail down a spot in the England halves with a big first season in the NRL. Aiming to buck the trend of English backs struggling down under, the 25-year-old has the ability to become a world class talent at the Raiders.
8. Tom Burgess
Left to carry on the Burgess mantle at South Sydney, Tom is backed to play big minutes for the Rabbitohs this season and will likely retain his place in England’s front row. Despite only being 27, the towering prop has vast experience and will keep the Kangaroos pack on their toes.
9. Daryl Clark
Perhaps a slightly controversial decision to give this man a starting spot given his impact off the bench, but Clark needs to play more minutes at international level. Wane is a coach that will recognise this, with the 27-year-old’s speed and skill around the ruck likely to give the Aussies no end of problems.
10. Luke Thompson
Thompson proved in the recent World Club Challenge clash he can match it with any pack in the game. The NRL-bound prop has become one of the leading forwards in the game and his willingness to never take a backwards step will suit Wane’s style down to the ground. A certain starter if he stays injury free.
11. John Bateman
Speaking of certain starters, this man’s name is probably already down on the team sheet. Bateman arrived in the NRL a virtual unknown quantity at the start of last year, but he ended it as the world’s best back-rower. He will be buoyed by Wane’s appointment and could even be given the captaincy depending on other selections.
12. Elliott Whitehead
Whitehead is another regular at international level for England and will likely retain his place. A starter every week in the NRL for the Raiders, he rarely lets the team down and much like club teammate Bateman, his never-say-die attitude will be perfect for a team coached by Wane.
13. Sean O’Loughlin (C)
Wait. What!? Yes, O’Loughlin is set to retire at the end of this season but I wouldn’t be quite so sure of that. He undoubtedly still has it in him to play one more year and Wane will be at the front of the queue to convince him. ‘Lockers’ will go out as England captain at next year’s World Cup, that’s my prediction.
14. Josh Hodgson
Hodgson has struggled to reproduce his form for Canberra at international level and this could see him slip to the bench. He still has plenty to offer and brings a different style to that of Clark, what with his craftiness around the ruck and expert kicking game. Unlikely to be overlooked but his place is under massive threat.
15. Liam Watts
Watts was unfortunate not to play for the Lions last year after a superb season at Castleford. The Super League Dream Teamer is a player Wane will absolutely love and if he continues to be as consistent this season, he will finally force his way into an international jersey.
16. Alex Walmsley
Much like Saints teammate Thompson, Walmsley proved he can match it with Australia’s best in the World Club Challenge. The 29-year-old’s sheer size and power is a nightmare for opposition teams to handle and he will help the England pack get on top of the Kangaroos.
17. Ryan Sutton
There is no doubt that Wane will be fair and pick players on form, but he will have his favourites. One of them will likely be former Wigan man Sutton who certainly didn’t let anyone down during his first season at Canberra. Hopeful of getting for game-time in the NRL this season, he could sneak a place on the England bench.