With the World Cup approaching at the end of 2021, there are already debates circulating about who will be in Shaun Wane’s thinking.
Here are the top five contenders to take the number one England shirt.
By the time the World Cup rolls around, Sam Tomkins will be 32 but he will be far from past it. The ex-Wigan fullback was a key part of Catalans’ success in 2020 as they finished inside the top four and it’s very likely he’ll continue that form into 2021. He’s undoubtedly a Shaun Wane player too, having produced some of his finest rugby under him at Wigan. Wane will likely trust him more than anyone else in the position.
Warrington’s number one, Stefan Ratchford is forever Mr. Reliable for the Wolves and will always be in the England squad. It just depends where Wane will play the versatile back – it could be fullback, but Ratchford would have to have a superb 2021.
Though operating at centre in 2020 for Wigan, Zak Hardaker was once the country’s best fullbacks. And, after missing out on two World Cups prior, Hardaker will certainly be eager to make up for lost time. It would probably be unlikely that Wane would choose the ex-Leeds man considering his forced positional switch at Wigan.
A move to Castleford could be the best choice Niall Evalds has ever made; having been at Salford all of his career, the fullback has swapped Lancashire to West Yorkshire to play at the back of a fully-English spine at the Tigers. With Danny Richardson and Jake Trueman in the halves and Paul McShane at hooker, Evalds is likely to thrive and could well force himself into Wane’s thinking.
Currently out with injury, it would take a hell of a lot for Jamie Shaul to make the England squad, particularly as his Hull FC career has somewhat stagnated. Forever a danger going forward, Shaul’s defensive problems and troubles under the high ball have been well documented in the past. A definite outsider, on his day Shaul is unstoppable.