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The 5 players who impressed most for England, including Leeds Rhinos star

The clash between England and France yesterday has seen lots of reaction, much of it negative given the shakey first half, poor production and the low attendance, however, there were still some positive individual performances to take from the game.

England would run out as 40-8 victors despite going 8-0 behind and only leading 18-8 at the half and the game could have been won by an even wider margin had Harry Smith taken his kicking boots to Toulouse, the Wigan playmaker criticised for only making four of his eight conversions.

He did play brilliantly from a creative standpoint, in particular for Tom Johnstone’s late try, but it was his try-saving tackle that was the most significant contribution to the team. Despite those impressive moments, he wasn’t one of the standout performers with a series of other players impressing.

We’ve selected five players who impressed the most for England in the victory to highlight their contributions.

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The Challenge Cup trophy at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before the game.

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Five standout performers for England in victory over France

Jack Welsby

England Jack Welsby

Credit: Imago Images

The St Helens man was arguably the best on the pitch in an England shirt and was key in helping turn the match around. It was Welsby who scored the first try and that acted as a catalyst for England to kick into gear. He would double up in the second half and showed why he is the definite and certain number one.

Tom Johnstone

Catalans Dragons winger Tom Johnstone hasn’t quite matched the heights that he hit in Super League in 2023 so far this year but he picked up where he left off in an England shirt, another of the England players to score a brace. He also ran incredibly strongly to help set up an Ash Handley try with his break and looping pass one of the highlights of a poor first-half.

Ash Handley

Credit: Imago Images

The Leeds Rhinos flyer was another of those to score two after having score a hattrick in this fixture last year. At times in 2024 he has looked unplayable and the poor French defence ensured he looked impressive again, however, his strong carries and the constant threat he held made everyone else’s job easier.

Ben Currie

Rugby League England France Andy last

Credit: Imago Images

Finally, a player in this list who didn’t score a brace, Ben Currie sums up what a brilliant second-rower should be. Hard-working, error-free and he went about his business quietly but efficiently. He also showed glimpses with the ball as he has been doing for Warrington this season whilst playing at loose forward. That was evident when he dummied to help set up Jack Welsby in the second half.

Mikey Lewis

Credit: Imago Images

There were arguments that Mikey Lewis should have started this game and he reinforced those with his display off the bench, even if he did play in the number nine role plenty of the time. His one-handed scoop from dummy-half is one of the most perfectly executed skills you’ll see on a rugby league field and it’s something he offers to inject pace in the game. That pace was evident when he broke free to release George Williams to score.

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