England Academy head coach Dave Elliott has named his 21-man squad that will take on the touring Australian Institute of Sport when the two sides clash at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday, December 4 (3.00pm).
The squad features players that have come through the ranks at 10 different Engage Super League clubs including newcomers for 2012, Widnes Vikings. St Helens, Bradford Bulls and Warrington Wolves dominate the squad, with 12 players coming from those three clubs alone.
Saints have the largest contingent in the squad, with five youngsters represented while Bradford are close behind with four representatives and Warrington with three. Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos both have two players in the squad while Hull FC, Harlequins RL, Huddersfield Giants, Widnes Vikings and Wakefield Wildcats all have one player each selected.
“We’re all looking forward to what lies in store and the players themselves are excited about the test,” said Elliott. “It’s a different challenge for us. We played against France in the summer but this will be a different type of test and we’ll be going up against a team which I’m sure will have lots of quality.
“We had some good experiences against France when we played them and to cap the year off with a win against the AIS is something the lads would all like to do. They all want to finish the season on a high and this game is a great opportunity to do that.
“But this is also a great test for the players. This game offers the guys a great opportunity to prove themselves at this level and gives us, as coaches, an opportunity to see how they have developed through the season.”
Elliott led the England Academy to a 2-0 series win over the Australian Schoolboys last December, but he’s keen to point out that the achievements of the past will have no bearing on this squad and that the game against the AIS will be an exciting one for everyone involved.
“Playing at this level gives the players a platform to launch their careers from,” he said. “The success of some of last year’s squad in taking the next step showed that this is a stage to progress from.
“However last year’s results are history because this is a different squad. We’re not worrying about last year, the focus is on what’s coming ahead.”
England Academy U17 Squad to face the Australian Institute of Sport
Connor Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Mike McMeeken (Harlequins RL, West London Sharks)
Sam Doherty (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Hunslet Warriors)