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War of the Roses: Is this how Yorkshire would line up?

It’s a suggestion that pops up every so often through the season, mainly when State of Origin is gripping worldwide audiences with it’s unique atmosphere and non-stop action – would Super League benefit from a similar concept?

The War of the Roses, which would pit Yorkshire’s finest against their Lancashire counterparts, has been played in both the women’s and youth ranks in recent times but is yet to be given a chance in the men’s top level.

We thought it would be interesting to see how each side could line up, so here’s our suggested Yorkshire starting XVII…

Fullback – Zak Hardaker

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Fullback is one position where Yorkshire have an embarrassment of riches but Hardaker would likely be first choice. The 28-year-old has been superb for Wigan since his return from a drugs ban, with his call-up for Great Britain last year a worthy reward for his hard work.

Other options – Niall Evalds, Jack Walker, Jamie Shaul, Ashton Golding

Wingers – Jermaine McGillvary and Ash Handley

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There are three standout contenders on the flanks but on the basis of form, Tom Johnstone is the man to narrowly miss out. McGillvary has been a staple in the England team for years now and has begun 2020 in consistent form, helping Huddersfield to an impressive four wins from five games. After four years as Ryan Hall’s understudy 24-year-old Handley has emerged as one of Super League’s most potent finishers and racked up 22 tries last season.

Other options – Tom Johnstone, Derrell Olpherts, Darnell McIntosh, Tom Briscoe, Ben Jones-Bishop, Tom Lineham, Ben Crooks

Centres – Reece Lyne and Harry Newman

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After making Shaun Wane’s first extended England squad earlier this year, Lyne and Newman were the standout choices in the centres, although Huddersfield youngster Jake Wardle was unlucky to miss out. Lyne has become a dependable figure at Wakefield since joining from Hull in 2012 and is strong in both attack and defence. Newman has burst onto the Super League scene after impressing on dual-registration at Featherstone in the past two years, with his natural physique and talent cementing a place in Leeds’ starting side.

Other options – Jake Wardle, Toby King, Michael Shenton, Kris Welham

Halves – Jake Trueman and Luke Gale

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In the halves we reunite two former teammates. Trueman is one of the country’s top prospects and after learning his craft under the watchful guidance of Gale, has become one of Castleford’s key men. Meanwhile, his mentor has been superb since returning to hometown club Leeds and is arguably close to replicating the 2015 form that saw him become Man of Steel.

To a certain extent, this position picks itself. Watts and Walmsley are arguably the second and third best props in the league, with NRL-bound Luke Thompson the only player to better them. The pair have exceptional work rates and are regularly up there on the carries and metres made stats charts.

Other options – Matty English, Rob Mulhern, Nathan Massey, Oliver Wilson, Mikolaj Oledzki

Hooker – Daryl Clark

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There are several quality options at hooker but former Man of Steel Clark gets the spot. His speed out of dummy half is among the best in the world and often gets his side on the front foot. His defensive positioning is also among his top assets.

Other options – Danny Houghton, Michael McIlorum, Adam O’Brien, Kruise Leeming, James Cunningham , Kyle Wood

Second Rowers – Jon Wilkin and Gareth Ellis

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You’d do well to find a more experienced second row pairing than Wilkin and Ellis. Between them, the pair have over 40 years-worth of experience and have each made over 450 professional appearances. They’re both outstanding leaders and bring a lot to their respective teams and so would lead from the front in the forward pack.

Other options – Joe Wardle, Matty Storton, Alex Mellor, Stevie Ward, Liam Sutcliffe, Danny Kirmond

Loose Forward – Morgan Smithies

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Despite graduating through the Wigan academy, Smithies is from Halifax and played his amateur rugby for West Yorkshire club Siddal. After breaking into the Warriors’ first team last season he’s gone from strength to strength, with many tipping him as the man to replace Sean O’Loughlin. An England call-up can’t be too far away either.

Other options – Adam Milner, Joe Westerman

Subs – Paul McShane, Scott Taylor, George Burgess and Cameron Smith.

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As England international forwards, Taylor and Burgess provide perfect backup to Watts and Walmsley. They provide the same aggression when carrying the ball and are able to punch holes in opposition defensive lines. McShane offers something different to Clark. While he may not have the same straight line speed, he’s just as quick out of dummy half and reads the game well on the run. Completing the bench is another youngster in Cameron Smith, who has started the 2020 season as one of the club’s standouts, currently leading their tackle charts with 212.

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