England captain George Williams will be named in Shaun Wane’s 24-man squad to face Tonga despite the prospect of him missing the majority – or even all – of the three-match Test series this autumn.
Williams’ availability for the series, and indeed his chances of selection, have been in doubt ever since he was suspended for two matches by an independent tribunal appointed on behalf of the Rugby Football League.
Following Warrington Wolves’ play-off exit in defeat to St Helens, he was initially given a one-match ban which was then doubled on appeal after it was deemed to be frivolous.
However, Wane is poised to resist the temptation to leave his captain out, despite a second appeal taking place on Wednesday which could potentially rule him out of the entire series.
Love Rugby League understands that skipper Williams will be part of the squad despite being banned for the opening two tests as it stands.
If his ban is increased again, Williams would inevitably be replaced by another half-back. But Wane has gambled on the Warrington star being available for some – or all – of the series, with hopes high behind the scenes that the latest appeal will be successful on Tuesday evening.
England to take George Williams gamble for Tonga test series
Wane’s squad will be announced on Tuesday (October 17) with the Three Lions chief taking part in a press conference at the Totally Wicked Stadium from around 2pm. Leigh Leopards prop Robbie Mulhern was added to his ‘Performance Squad’ earlier this month, so is in with a chance of recall to a full squad for the first time since 2018.
St Helens’ home ground will provide the venue for the opening test against Kristian Woolf’s Tonga this Sunday (October 22).
The two nations will then square off again on the Saturday which follows (October 28) at Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium, with the third and final test coming on Saturday November 4 at Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley.
It will be the first time that Tonga – who exited last year’s World Cup at the quarter-final stage to Samoa – have taken on England in this country since 2006.