England boss Shaun Wane forced to name second new captain in as many games with George Williams suspended

Ben Olawumi
George Williams, Jack Welsby, England

George Williams (left) and Jack Welsby (right) sing the national anthem ahead of England's mid-season international against France - Alamy

England have this morning confirmed that Jack Welsby will wear the captain’s armband against Tonga on Sunday in familiar territory, with a new skipper needed in the absence of the suspended George Williams.

Head coach Shaun Wane only officially named Warrington Wolves ace Williams as the national side’s captain ahead of the mid-season test against France back in April.

But with the half-back seeing his two-game ban – which was picked up in Warrington’s play-off defeat to St Helens – upheld, he will now miss this Sunday’s test against Kristian Woolf’s side as well as the second in the series at Huddersfield Giants’ John Smiths Stadium next Saturday, October 28.

Accordingly, England will have a new man don the armband for the second time in as many games, and boss Wane opts for youngster Jack Welsby on home soil. The St Helens ace will lead the national side out at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday, the same venue he plays his home club games at.

It may well be only a seventh England appearance for the 22-year-old, though his credentials are evident for all to see, with national chief Wane tipping him to fill retiring legend Sam Tomkins’ shoes earlier this year. Tomkins was the England skipper prior to Williams, so it hasn’t taken long for Wane’s words to ring true.

Jack Welsby named England captain by Shaun Wane in absence of suspended George Williams

Wigan-born Welsby has been a Man of Steel nominee in each of the last two years, and despite missing out on the main prize in 2022, was crowned as Super League’s Young Player of the Year. He’s already made 117 Saints appearances since his debut in 2018.

Crossing for 54 tries and winning three Grand Finals, as well as the 2021 Challenge Cup and of course the World Club Challenge at the start of this year, the full-back infamously scored the winning four-pointer after the final hooter in the 2020 showpiece against hometown club Wigan Warriors.

The England captaincy – taking on a Tonga side headed up by the man who gave him his chance at Saints in Woolf – merely feels like another step in what has already been an illustrious career. He is the country’s future.

First-choice skipper Williams will return for the final game in the three-match test series on November 4 at Headingley.

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