England Rugby League head coach Wayne Bennett has named his 19 man squad that will play against the Kiwi’s in next months one off test in Denver Colorado. Along with a host of familiar names that were so close to winning the World Cup last November, the multiple NRL grand final winning coach has included 3 new faces, two of which have been promoted from the English Knights squad named earlier this season.
Two of those new caps go to Saints pair Luke Thompson and Tommy Makinson, who have both been a massive part of their club’s sides dominance this year as Thompson has took over the mantel of Saints injured trojan Alex Walmsley and is now the league’s top meter maker as the Saints lead the super league table with a six point gap along with being only 80 minutes away from the Challenge cup final. The other new cap come in the form of Hull FC’s single representative Jake Connor who has been a stand out for Hull in their recent injury crisis, covering several positions to the same man of the match standard.
Another person who returns to the squad after not beginning selected for the World Cup is South Sydney Prop Forward George Burgess who along with Twin brother Tom and older brother Sam make up 6 off the NRL based players selected. The others being the in form St George pair of Gareth Widdop and Veteran front rower James Graham, while Canberra back rower Elliot White head is also included.
With Thompson and Makinson being added to the expected St Helen’s contingent of James Roby, Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival they lead the way with 5 players in the squad, while 2nd placed Wigan provide Skipper Sean O’Loughlin, George Williams and John Bateman. Warrington Wolves duo Stefan Ratchford and Chris Hill keep their places in the squad, with current champions Leeds rhinos on /off form this season seeing Ryan Hall as their only representative and finally despite Huddersfield Giants struggling this season, Winger Jermaine McGillivary makes up the squad.
Over all this is a strong squad, with the size to dominate the kiwi’s in the middle and the speed to cause havoc in the back’s, however for a squad that was apparently picked on form and the inclusion of the three new additions supports that theory, young St Helen’s half back Danny Richardson could fell slightly hard done to as he has come of age this season, being the stand out Half back in super league and in the absence of the injured Luke Gale, possible should have been on that plan next week. Another who possible could feel he had a chance would be Warrington’s Flyer Josh Charnley who has been in stand out form since returning to the sport only a few months ago, although Hall and McGillivary haven’t been hitting the form they showed in the world cup, its hard for a winger to show his ability when his side much like Leeds and Huddersfield are struggling to dominate and provide chances.
Full England squad to take on New Zealand:
J Bateman (Wigan), G Burgess, S Burgess, T Burgess (all South Sydney), J Connor (Hull), J Graham (St George Illawarra), R Hall (Leeds), C Hill (Warrington), J Lomax (St Helens), T Makinson (St Helens), J McGillvary (Huddersfield), S O'Loughlin (Wigan, capt), M Percival (St Helens), S Ratchford (Warrington), J Roby (St Helens) L Thompson (St Helens), G Widdop (St George Illawarra), G Williams (Wigan), E Whitehead (Canberra).