5 players who could make their England debut after mid-season France test confirmed

Drew Darbyshire
Brad O'Neill, Elliot Minchella, Josh Thewlis Super League Alamy

From left to right: Brad O'Neill (Wigan), Elliot Minchella (Hull KR), Josh Thewlis (Warrington)

It has been confirmed that England will play France in Toulouse on Saturday, June 29 as a double-header with the men’s and women’s teams in action.

The games will be held at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, with the women’s test (3:30pm) and men’s test (6pm) being followed by Toulouse Olympique‘s Championship clash with Featherstone Rovers (9pm).

Both test matches will be streamed live from Toulouse on Super League+, rugby league’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.

France‘s Under-19s will travel in the opposite direction three days later to take on England Academy at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Tuesday, July 2 (7:30pm).

With the test matches now officially confirmed by the Rugby Football League, Love Rugby League takes a look at five potential debutants for Shaun Wane’s side, with the England boss having handed 13 debuts out in last year’s 64-0 win over France, who are currently celebrating 90 years of the sport in the republic..

Brad O’Neill

Brad O'Neill Wigan Warriors Alamy
Brad O'Neill in action for Wigan Warriors in 2024

It’s hard to believe that O’Neill is still only 21 considering what he has already achieved at the top level. The Wigan Warriors academy product already has a Super League title, League Leaders’ Shield, World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup to his name.

The 21-year-old hasn’t taken a backwards step since making his first team debut in 2021, having already made more than 50 appearances for Matt Peet’s side.

O’Neill has enjoyed a tremendous start to 2024, being an ever-present for the Warriors so far, including a mammoth stint in their World Club Challenge triumph over Penrith Panthers. England call-up next, perhaps?

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Elliot Minchella

Elliot Minchella Hull KR Alamy
Hull KR captain Elliot Minchella

Quite surprisingly, Minchella has never made an appearance on the international stage.

The Hull KR captain has really found his feet since moving to Craven Park in 2020, with more than 80 games for the Robins already under his belt, including last year’s Challenge Cup final.

Minchella is one of the leading loose forwards in Super League, with his defensive tenacity and ball-playing ability coming to the fore.

The Bradford-born forward is also of Italian heritage, although he is a generation out from being eligible to represent the Azzurri.

Josh Thewlis

Josh Thewlis Warrington Wolves Alamy

The 21-year-old winger has scored 32 tries in 70 appearances for Warrington Wolves since making his first team debut back in 2019.

Thewlis has lightning pace and is a prolific try scorer, becoming a mainstay in Sam Burgess’ side this season.

The Oldham-born winger, who also qualifies to represent Ireland via his heritage, has also made two appearances for the England Knights, scoring five tries in two games.

With England boss Wane giving a plethora of young players a chance to shine on the international stage last year, could Thewlis be the next to receive his first cap for the senior team?

George Delaney

George Delaney St Helens Alamy

The emergence of Delaney over the line 18 months or so has been tremendous, with the 20-year-old prop having already played 30 games for the St Helens first team, with 22 of those coming from the bench.

Delaney is a no-nonsense front-rower who possesses an explosive carry and chalks up the metres for fun.

With England now building in their preparations for the 2026 World Cup in the southern hemisphere – which Delaney could be a part of if he continues his trajectory – then could he earn his first call-up sooner rather than later?

Liam Marshall

Liam Marshall Wigan Warriors Alamy

England are blessed with options on the wing, with the likes of Dom Young, Tommy Makinson, Tom Davies, Tom Johnstone, Ash Handley, Matty Ashton and Josh Thewlis available.

But Marshall will surely be in the conversation this year. The Wiganer has scored 132 tries in 159 appearances for his hometown club since making his Warriors debut back in 2017.

Marshall has two Super League titles, two League Leaders’ Shields, a Challenge Cup and a World Club Challenge to his name.

The 27-year-old played for England in a World Cup warm-up game against Fiji in Salford in 2022, but has yet to earn his first official cap.

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