England v Tonga: Broadcast details for this afternoon’s first test clash with squads locked in

Ben Olawumi
Mark Chapman, BBC Sport, England v Tonga promo picture with Tom Burgess and Tui Lolohea

The BBC will provide the UK's broadcast of the England v Tonga test series - Alamy

England face Tonga on home soil for the first time since 2006 this afternoon at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with live broadcasts in the UK and Oceania. Here’s all you need to know ahead of the first test series clash.

The two countries have only ever squared off three times before, winning all three including the most recent, a 20-18 thriller in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finals.

Today’s clash in St Helens is the first of a three-game series, with further meetings to come at Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium (October 28) and Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley (November 4).

This will be Tonga’s first game since a World Cup exit to Samoa at the quarter-final stage this time last year, which head coach Kristian Woolf described as ‘disappointing’ in Tuesday’s pre-series press conference.

Shaun Wane’s England meanwhile have played just once since the same Samoa side beat them in the semi-finals at The Emirates, hammering France 64-0 in a mid-season international at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium back in April.

While pride is the main thing on the line in this series, there is a shield to be won.

Broadcast details for this afternoon’s first test clash between England and Tonga

Free-to-air broadcaster BBC last month confirmed that they would be showing five England games this autumn, including all three of the Tonga series clashes.

They will also screen the women’s game against Wales on November 4, which – getting underway at midday – kicks off a double-header with the final men’s test match at Headingley. England v France wheelchair the following day, Bonfire Night, rounds off the coverage.

With kick-off in St Helens this afternoon scheduled for 2.30pm (BST), BBC will commence their coverage 25 minutes prior at 2.05pm. BBC One is the channel you’ll need, unless you’re in Wales where the game is being broadcast via BBC Two.

Meanwhile, in Oceania, Tongan supporters can tune into today’s clash via three different broadcasters, as confirmed earlier this week.

Fox Sports Australia, Sky Sports New Zealand and Digicel Tonga will all have live coverage. For those wishing to watch across the world though, it will be a late one. When the 2.30pm kick-off time at the Totally Wicked, it will be 2.30am on Monday morning (October 23) over in Tonga.

Initial squads locked in

As is standard practice, the two nations named their 19-men squads for this afternoon’s clash on Friday.

We already knew that England would be without captain George Williams through suspension, with St Helens ace Jack Welsby confirmed as his stand-in replacement on familiar territory earlier this week. Alongside Williams, the headline player to miss out is winger Dom Young.

One of five men in Wane’s 24 to ply their trade in the NRL, the speedster is believed to have been hospitalised with an infection, opening the door for a long-awaited international return for Super League Man of Steel nominee Tom Johnstone. Ben Currie also misses out alongside youngsters Tyler Dupree and Matty Ashton.

In the Tonga camp, three men are cut from Woolf’s initial pack, and unsurprisingly all three come from the NRL. Latu Fainu (Manly Sea Eagles), Daniel Tupou and Siua Wong (both Sydney Roosters) are the trio to miss out.

Second-rower Tyson Frizzell is included, and he is set to become the first-ever player to represent three separate countries in rugby league. Love Rugby League caught up with him earlier this week.

England: John Bateman, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Liam Farrell, Chris Hill, Tom Johnstone, Toby King, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees, Mikey Lewis, Tommy Makinson, Mike McMeeken, Robbie Mulhern, Harry Newman, Victor Radley, Harry Smith, Danny Walker, Jack Welsby, Elliott Whitehead

Tonga: Will Hopoate, Starford To’a, Will Penisini, Mosese Suli, Tolutau Koula, Tui Lolohea, Isaiya Katoa, Addin Fonua-Blake, Siliva Havili, Moeaki Fotuaika, Tyson Frizell, Keaon Koloamatangi, Felise Kaufusi, Dion Teaupa, Tevita Tatola, Haumole Olakau’atu, Hame Sele, Eliesa Katoa, Konrad Hurrell

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