England Head Coach Shaun Wane has named a 20-strong squad for Saturday’s (18 June) mid-season international against the Combined Nations All Stars in Warrington.
The squad includes in-form forwards Michael McIlorum, the Catalans Dragons hooker whose last appearance in an England jersey was against France during the 2013 World Cup, and his Dragons colleague Mike McMeeken who last featured for England in the 2017 World Cup.
There’s a call-up too for the uncapped St Helens’ second-row Joe Batchelor. Batchelor’s St Helens teammates Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival miss out through injury, but utility back Jack Welsby is one of five Saints included and will make his international debut.
Like Welsby, Warrington Wolves’ Matty Ashton is another player who has progressed through the England talent pathway to be included in the senior squad for the first time. The Warrington flyer is one of five Wolves players chosen, with Wane drawing upon nine of the Betfred Super League’s 12 clubs in his selection.
Sam Tomkins, the third Catalans Dragons player selected, will again captain the side. No NRL players were available for selection.
England Head Coach Shaun Wane says:
“Sam epitomises everything that a captain should be – a natural leader who’s always in the thick of the action. He’s a very smart player.
“I’ve every confidence in every player selected. Some need no introduction and have earned a recall, others are new to the squad and are also in on merit. They all have the ability to perform at this level and this is their chance to show myself and England supporters what they can do.”
Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves), Joe Batchelor (St Helens), John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Ryan Hall (Hull KR), Matty Lees (St Helens), Michael McIlorum, Mike McMeeken (both Catalans Dragons), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington Wolves), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons, Captain), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants), Kallum Watkins (Salford Red Devils), Jack Welsby (St Helens), George Williams (Warrington Wolves)
The All Stars fixture revives a Rugby League tradition which stretches back to the Other Nationalities team of the early 20th century, with the team made up of players from across the Rugby League world who are currently playing in the northern hemisphere. Coaching the All Stars this year will be Rugby League legend Ellery Hanley MBE, who goes head-to-head with his former Wigan and Leeds team-mate Shaun Wane.
Earlier this year Rugby League supporters in England and around the world rallied to support Tonga following the Pacific nation’s devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami in January. On Saturday both sides will wear unique, Tonga-inspired shirts for the match. Supporters can continue to raise funds for those affected by purchasing replica shirts which are on sale now. £10 from each shirt sale will be donated to a tsunami relief fund.
England versus the Combined Nations All Stars is part of a double-header which also sees England Women taking on France. Tickets for the men’s and women’s double-header at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium are available to buy now from only £20 Adults and £10 Under 16s at eticketing.co.uk/rugbyleague.
PHOTOS: Shaun Wane with assistant coach Paul Wellens; Shaun Wane with All Stars head coach Ellery Hanley at the Halliwell Jones Stadium