England captain George Williams will miss the first two tests against Tonga after failing in his appeal against his two match ban.
Despite the fact the England skipper will miss two of the three tests, he has still been named in Shaun Wane’s squad to face off against Tonga, perhaps because England, Wane and Williams were hoping for a reprieve in their appeal last night.
That was the second appeal of this process and seemingly the final one, as it determined that the two game ban handed down to Williams at the Operational Rules Tribunal last week was indeed correct.
Warrington’s playmaker had initially been hit with a one game ban for a Grade B shoulder charge that was committed during the Wire’s playoff clash with St Helens.
That one game ban was appealed against by the club with Williams facing the Operational Rules Tribunal on the same night as Saints’ star Matty Lees, also hit with a Grade B charge for a shoulder charge.
Whilst Lees saw his punishment reduced and the charge dropped from B to A and a ban to a £250 fine, Williams wasn’t so lucky.
His appeal was deemed frivolous and therefore an extra game was added to it, so it begs the question why was this second appeal last night not also deemed frivolous?
There were fears from fans that that could be the case and therefore England would play their whole series without their skipper, however this style of appeal cannot be deemed frivolous and therefore this wasn’t in danger.
Effectively the appeal was a roll of the dice for Williams and co to see if he could reverse the previous appeal in which a game was added.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the outcome and now England will be without him for the first two tests leading to big questions around both the captaincy and who will start in the halves.
Wigan skipper Liam Farrell could well find himself given the nod given his links with Shaun Wane and his stellar campaign, whereas John Bateman has previously skippered his nation and could do so again.
As for the half-back role the squad selection would point towards possible debutant Mikey Lewis, or a potential shift of Jack Welsby into the halves as seen at the World Cup.
Williams will of course be ready and available for the third test which could well be a series decider on November 4th.