England coach Shaun Wane says he is more than happy with the 24-man squad he has been able to select for the World Cup, despite a few key withdrawals.
This autumn’s World Cup will be Wane’s first tournament as head coach of his country since taking the reins in February 2020.
On Friday morning, Wane confirmed his 24-man squad before addressing the media at a launch event in Worsley.
Wane’s squad: Tomkins, Ackers, Batchelor, Bateman, T Burgess, Cooper, Farnworth, Hall, Hill, Knowles, Lees, Makinson, McIlorum, McMeeken, Oledzki, Pearce-Paul, Radley, Sneyd, Thompson, Watkins, Welsby, Whitehead, Williams, Young.
England are without several key players due to injury – Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival, Alex Walmsley, Harry Newman and Liam Farrell.
Wane stressed to the media that he is more than comfortable with his 24-man squad, despite the notable absentees.
Here’s everything Wane had to say on squad selection…
We had a very emotional phone call yesterday and the day before. He pulled himself out and I understand. I’m really happy with the squad we’ve named. I’m all for thinking forward and not thinking about Jonny, Percy, Liam Farrell and Harry Newman going. I’ve got a really strong group of men and I’m more than happy with what we’ve got.
Australia-born Victor Radley
He messaged me and then rang me, which makes a difference. I didn’t need to persuade him. The conversation was really one-sided about his desire to play for England and a lot of detail of how important it was for him to win.
He’s very committed. He was very emotional when he rang me and put his name forward. He’s keen to represent England where his dad is from. He is a good player and a tough competitor and can play. His main attribute is that he competes for everything so he suits the way we want to play.
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Herbie Farnworth to make international debut
He is a fantastic athlete. I went over to Australia to watch the Magic and met up with Herbie, spent a day with him and I was really impressed with his desire to play for England. We’ve got two fantastic athletes with Herbie and Dom (Young) on our edges.
His injury was upper body so he can run. He’s fit, he’s dedicated and I know he has been working really hard. My medical team has been speaking to the Brisbane medical team so I’m happy, I’ve got no concerns at all (about his fitness).
Dom Young opting for birth nation England over Jamaican heritage
I’d have been disappointed if he needed persuading. He’s very keen, I spoke to his agent and he has fitted in very well training with the lads this week so he’s been really good.
I’m comfortable with my 24 and the external players that are training on. Our squad is full of proud Englishmen who are very keen on making sure we compete for everything and represent England the way we can. I’m more than happy with the 24, my front-row and halves, I’m ready.
Chris Hill’s England return
The way he carries the ball, his metres after contact, his work ethic, the way he’s equipped himself since he’s gone to Huddersfield. I think he’s a really good player. The phone call and the meeting I had with him about joining us, I’m not going to tell you the detail what he said to me but he verbally expressed to me that England means everything to him.
He is a great kid. I had a fantastic conversation with him when I told him he was in. He was very emotional but he’s probably got the best kicking game in the competition. In October and November it is going to be wet and he can a bad yardage set into a good yardage set and that’s his quality. He plays straight and he has his eyes up. He’s a smart operator who knows how to win games.
He’s a big, tall athlete. We’ve got Kall (Watkins), Dom (Young) and Herbie (Farnworth) and Kai. He has great skill and a good offload and runs hard. He fights to play the ball quickly and has all the attributes which I love. He’ll be a good asset to us.
I’ve been impressed. He’s a good player. He’s smart, he competes and he’s tough. I think he’s a really good asset to us. The fact you can play him centre, full-back or half is great. He’s just a good rugby player. I’m not sure what St Helens have done with him, I just think naturally he’s a good rugby player.
He seems to do well wherever he plays. He’s going to play against Fiji so we’ll see how he goes there.
First call-up for Andy Ackers
I like his vision and I like how he gets out. He plays square and his skill and accuracy of passing is tough. He’s a Wiganer, he defends tough but he’s got good all-round game. He’s the form player and I’ve said all year that I will pick what I believe is the best at the end. He was very emotional, he’s a proud Englishman.
We have some good hookers and some good nines so it has been tough. I’m a big fan of the hookers that we’ve left out but that’s my job. In my heart I need to pick two who I think can do the job and get us through to the World Cup final.
Welsby, Sneyd and George Williams
All three quality players and really good kids. They are very passionate about representing England which, to me, is the most important thing. They’re all up against each other, they understand. They know that the best two will play.
I spoke to him last week, I spoke to him two weeks before that and two weeks before that. I was just really honest and straight. He’s had a broken leg and needs to get himself right. I’ve got three good halves.
I’m very close to knowing my Samoa team. There’s still a couple of niggling doubts, the players have had a really tough year this year. In this early period, we need to look after the players, especially the Super League players. We need to make sure we look after the players and make sure they are firing for Samoa. The Fiji game will help us to make sure the team is at the strongest.
If you look at Samoa, they’ve got eight players in the Grand Final this weekend. We have to be very good. They are a good team but so are we. We’ve got things on our side that they’ve not got. They are big and tough so it is going to be full on that game at Newcastle.
Overall squad selection
I’ve got 24 really strong, committed men who want to represent England. I look through the squad of 24 and I’m really happy. The average is age is 27 or 28 so it is a really good age of experience and youth so it should stand us in good stead in the group games.