England dealt blow as George Williams sees ban doubled; Matty Lees could play in Tonga opener after successful appeal

Drew Darbyshire
George Williams and Matty Lees England Alamy

George Williams (left) and Matty Lees (right) in action for England - Alamy

England will be without captain George Williams for the first two games in their three-match test series against Tonga following an unsuccessful appeal against his suspension.

The Warrington Wolves star initially received a one-match penalty notice for a Grade B charge of a shoulder charge in their play-off eliminator defeat against St Helens a fortnight ago.

On Tuesday night, Williams pleaded guilty to the charge but challenged the grading in front of an independent operational rules tribunal.

However, the tribunal rejected the challenge, deeming it frivolous. As a result, his ban has gone from one match to two.

Williams’ suspension comes as a big blow to England, with the star playmaker being handed the captaincy by head coach Shaun Wane ahead of their 64-0 mid-season win over France.

St Helens prop Matty Lees available for England’s test series opener against Tonga

Meanwhile, St Helens prop Matty Lees will be available for England’s first test against Tonga if selected after a successful appeal.

The Saints powerhouse initially received a one-match penalty notice for a Grade B shoulder charge in their Super League semi-final defeat to Catalans Dragons last weekend.

Lees challenged the grading, with the independent operational rules tribunal upholding his challenge, downgrading the charge to Grade A. As a result, his punishment was reduced from a one-match suspension to a £250 fine.

Lees will be available for England’s test opener against Kristian Woolf’s Tonga side at The Totally Wicked Stadium on October 22, if selected by Wane.

England will then host Tonga at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield and at AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium in Leeds the following weeks.

Wane will announce his 24-man squad on Monday following the conclusion of Saturday’s Super League Grand Final between Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford.

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