2021 gives England a chance to go one better in the World Cup than their appearance in the final in 2017. Key to any success achieved at this autumn’s tournament is selecting the right squad.
New England coach Shaun Wane has promised to reward form. And we’ve seen him make good on that promise calling up the likes of Ash Handley and Toby King.
So, let’s look at 5 unexpected players who could break into Wane’s England squad if they impress this term.
In recent weeks, Welsby has really impressed leaving Lachlan Coote with a real job on his hands to snatch the St Helens fullback spot back. Welsby had a stellar season last term displaying great versatility. He scored the winning try in the Grand Final and is at home almost anywhere across the backline. His skill level, athleticism and versatility might see him included in Wane’s squad giving him great cover across the three-quarters.
Eastmond has represented England in both codes even impressing against the All Blacks and helping England to the Four Nations Final in 2009. The dynamic halfback has shown real x-factor in both league and union and if he can rediscover that at Leeds he has an outside chance of making Wane’s England squad. He has the perfect blend of dynamic running and pin-point kicking to test the likes of Australia.
Another halfback who will no doubt be pushing for a spot in the World Cup squad, it surprises me that Trueman has yet to play for England. His performance in Round 1 at Warrington proved his maturity despite his young age as he led the Tigers without a natural halfback partner following the injury to Gareth O’Brien. For me he’s definitely the future of the England halves and could be playing in this year’s World Cup.
Mulhern has been an underrated prop in recent years. In a struggling Hull KR side the big prop always impressed and made the hard yards. He definitely deserved his move to Warrington and I can see him really kicking on in 2021. If he does, he may be tasked with completing England’s pack in October.
Another forward who’s shown good potential and development in recent years, Smith was outstanding off the bench against Wakefield in Round 1. For a man of his size, he has superb skills capable of testing any defence. I expect him to again kick on in 2021 especially after the disappointment of missing out on Wembley last year.