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What to expect from Shaun Wane’s England squad announcement today

England

Shaun Wane will confirm his England squad that is set to take on France in Toulouse with an announcement expected at 2 pm today, but what can fans expect the squad to look like?

The clash against France is part of a double-header international and a triple-header on the day with England Women taking on France before the Men do so, with Toulouse Olympique then hosting Featherstone Rovers after the conclusion of the Men’s game.

It’s an event designed to celebrate 90 years of Rugby League in France with the two international games being broadcast on the new streaming platform Super League+.

Shaun Wane has already explained that he will be selecting a squad with the intention of flooding in new players and preparing early for the 2026 World Cup but what can fans expect from the squad? Who will be the surprise picks? Which veteran players will be brought along for their experience? And how many possible debutants could be named?

Here’s what to expect from this afternoon’s announcement.

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What Shaun Wane’s England squad could look like

The half-back problem that England have

England

Credit: Imago Images

The biggest dilemma that Shaun Wane and England are set to face over the next few years will be how to solve their half-back problem, and thankfully it’s not a problem caused by a lack of quality.

There is in fact a situation where England have three elite halves but just two spots to play them in. Captain George Williams seems to be a shoo-in for future tournaments with Shaun Wane having been very vocal about the faith he has in the former Wigan Warriors player.

That likely leads to a shootout between current Wigan star Harry Smith and Hull KR’s game-breaker Mikey Lewis, the two men who paired together for the first two tests against Tonga in the autumn.

Wane expressed on The Sportsman earlier this month that George Williams is a player with “credit in the bank” which could suggest that he doesn’t play, something that Sam Burgess would likely welcome as Wire look to re-energise after two flat performances after the Challenge Cup Final defeat.

It’s also been suggested by others including Barrie McDermott that Marc Sneyd should be in, however, that is very unlikely with Wane’s official line to the media being: “He’s a great player, no doubt. He’s been around a long time but I’ll be looking at hopefully the World Cup in a couple of years time. We’ll have a chat but I’ll be really honest, I do lean towards picking younger players.”

Who will get a first call-up?

Challenge Cup

Credit: Imago Images

There are plenty of players expected to get their first call-up to the England squad and one of those that now seems certain is Hull KR captain Elliot Minchella with the loose forward being among the competition’s form players.

It has since been reported by Rugby League Live that the KR talisman will be selected, something that will be confirmed at 2 pm, but it is no surprise to see him rewarded given his form and the injury issues for a number of other loose forwards.

Morgan Knowles is out injured, Morgan Smithies has since departed to the NRL and Cam Smith hasn’t boasted the form he has in recent years making Minchella the potential first-choice number 13.

George Delaney will almost certainly be another debutant for England with the St Helens youngster being among the brightest stars in Super League at the moment. As will Junior Nsemba, two young forwards that Shaun Wane will aim to build his England team around for the future.

There is also expected to be a call up for Liam Marshall, an older debutant but someone who incredibly has never donned the England jersey. Marshall is 28 and in the form of his life having scored 16 in 13 Super League appearances this year and seems a likely starter for Saturday.

Who gets the nod at nine for England?

England v France as Tiaki Chan new signing for Hull FC smiles

Credit: Imago Images

The other problem position for England in terms of a wealth of talent is at hooker with quality players like Jez Litten expected to miss out, highlighting the strength Shaun Wane has available to him.

Brad O’Neil could be in line for a first England cap, something that would round off an incredible start to his career so far with the youngster having won every available domestic honour so far in less than 70 games.

Danny Walker will be pushing him too and brings another element of youth, however, senior star Daryl Clark presents a thrid option that is hard to ignore given his scintillating form of late.

With Wane’s admission that youth is where he will go, it’s expected than O’Neil could debut with Walker off the bench or vice versa but don’t be surprised to see Clark called up to bring some much-needed experience in the camp.

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