England Head Coach Shaun Wane has invited 31 prospective Ashes candidates to a players’ gathering at Old Trafford on Monday 23 March – and included a further eight NRL-based players on his ‘watch list’ ahead of the autumn series against Australia.
Also invited to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup Final venue are more than 30 players identified by Knights’ coach Paul Anderson as possibilities for his 2020 squad.
Invites have been issued on the basis of Wane’s observations during the opening rounds of Betfred Super League XXV, and on insight gained from his discussions with club coaches.
Among the players invited is Hull FC’s Josh Griffin, who has never previously been part of England’s senior set-up.
Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers) and Wigan’s Liam Farrell and Zak Hardaker did not feature in the England Performance Squad (EPS) named in July 2019, but will be at Old Trafford.
Four of the players invited featured in the England Knights squad last term. They are Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils), Josh Jones (Hull FC), Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors) and Leeds centre Harry Newman who in 2018 was in the England Academy squad that defeated the touring Australians.
In total, 21 of those invited featured in the 27-strong EPS named in July 2019.
The NRL-based players are John Bateman, Josh Hodgson, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead and George Williams (all Canberra Raiders), Tom Burgess (South Sydney), James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons) and Kallum Watkins (Gold Coast).
England Head Coach Shaun Wane explains:
“It’s too early to be selecting Ashes squads – a lot can happen between now and the end of the season – but I’ve invited a group of players who are uppermost in my thoughts right now. I want to tell them that face-to-face and share with them my plans for the rest of the year.
“There are some very talented players, both in Super League and the NRL, and I’ll be monitoring their progress, week in, week out. I’m very excited about the prospect of working with them and the players who most impress will be the ones selected for the Ashes series.
“I realise that there are some notable exceptions at this stage, and I would say to those players is that this isn’t the squad, the door is never closed and outstanding form will be rewarded.”
Four 2019 England Academy graduates are among a host of new faces that Paul Anderson is considering for Knights selection: Wigan Warriors’ Ethan Havard, Harry Smith and Morgan Smithies, and Jack Welsby of St Helens.
Paul Anderson says:
“I’m very excited to be part of a new era for England Rugby League and eager to help Shaun achieve the success that players and fans alike are desperate for. England Knights is an important part of the process and this is an opportunity for potential squad members to hear our plans first hand and understand how they can be a part of them.”
Old Trafford: Senior invites
Josh Charnley (Warrington Wolves)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)
Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves)
Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves)
Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos)
Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors)
Josh Griffin (Hull FC)
Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves)
Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves)
Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity)
Josh Jones (Hull FC)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens)
Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity)
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants)
Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers)
Tommy Makinson (St Helens)
Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors)
Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos)
Mark Percival (St Helens)
Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves)
James Roby (St Helens)
Dan Sarginson (Salford Red Devils)
Scott Taylor (Hull FC)
Luke Thompson (St Helens)
Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons)
Alex Walmsley (St Helens)
Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers)
England Knights invites
Matthew Ashton (Warrington Wolves)
Jack Ashworth (St Helens)
Jake Bibby (Wigan Warriors)
Robert Butler (London Broncos)
Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons)
Matty English (Huddersfield Giants)
Ethan Havard (Wigan Warriors)
Toby King (Warrington Wolves)
George Lawler (Hull KR)
Matty Lees (St Helens)
Kruise Leeming (Leeds Rhinos)
Darnell McIntosh (Huddersfield Giants)
Michael McMeeken (Castleford Tigers)
Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors)
Masimbaashe Matongo (Hull FC)
Greg Minikin (Hull KR)
Adam O’Brien (Huddersfield Giants)
Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos)
Oliver Partington (Wigan Warriors)
Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors)
Danny Richardson (Castleford Tigers)
Aaron Smith (St Helens)
Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos)
Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors)
Morgan Smithies (Wigan Warriors)
Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers)
Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves)
Jack Walker (Leeds Rhinos)
Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
Jack Welsby (St Helens)
Matthew Whitley (Catalans Dragons)
Oliver Wilson (Huddersfield Giants)