How England could line-up at the Rugby League World Cup
We’re creating how each nation could line-up ahead of the World Cup, in collaboration with He Can Play For. This week, it’s England!
In these weekly feature pieces, we are selecting our predicted side who can represent England. This can include players born in that country, with heritage to the nation or even residency.
The first 11 were France, Jamaica, Cook Islands, Fiji, Ireland, Wales, Papua New Guinea, Greece, Italy, Lebanon and Scotland. Now it is time for England…
How England could line-up at the World Cup
1. Sam Tomkins
Tomkins is nailed on to be England’s number one at the World, having captained his country in their recent 18-4 win over the Combined Nations All Stars.
The 33-year-old former Man of Steel has been in fine form for Catalans Dragons this season. With more than 300 career appearances under his belt, Tomkins will bring a wealth of experience to Shaun Wane’s side this autumn.
TOMKINS: Captaining England at World Cup would be a career highlight
2. Tommy Makinson
Makinson has been a standout winger in Super League for several years now. The St Helens winger is currently leading the way for points in Super League this season.
Makinson only made his England debut in 2018, so he could play in his first World Cup this year.
3. Herbie Farnworth
The Brisbane Broncos centre has been sidelined with a bicep injury since June, but England are hopeful that he will be available to play in the World Cup.
Lancashire-born Farnworth has scored 19 tries in 53 appearances for the Broncos. It would be a huge boost for England if he was back in time for the World Cup.
4. Harry Newman
Newman has already played more than 50 games for Leeds despite only being 22 years of age.
He has won international honours with England Knights but has yet to make his senior debut. Could that come at this year’s World Cup?
5. Ryan Hall
Hall is one of the most experienced players in this line-up, having won 38 caps for England, scoring 35 tries.
The 34-year-old Hull KR winger could play in his third World Cup at the end of the year.
BEAST: Ryan Hall on having no plans to retire & his World Cup goal with England
6. Jonny Lomax
Lomax has been a mainstay in the St Helens team since his debut in 2009. The three-time Grand Final winner has scored 121 tries in 286 games for Saints.
Lomax has won 11 caps in total for Great Britain and England. He played in the last World Cup in 2017.
7. George Williams
Is this Williams’ time to shine in an England shirt? He’s been in and around the England squad since 2015, winning 11 international caps.
The Warrington half-back is a constant menace for opposition defences with his tricky footwork. He will be key if England are to have a successful World Cup campaign.
8. Luke Thompson
Thompson has impressed in the NRL since making his move to Canterbury Bulldogs in 2020.
The 27-year-old powerhouse will play in his first World Cup this year. He won two Super League titles with St Helens.
9. James Roby
The St Helens legend actually announced his international retirement last September after the World Cup was postponed for a year.
But his exceptional level of performance has been maintained at club level, despite it being anticipated that 2022 will be his final season as a player.
There’s been a lot of talk about Roby returning to the England fold to play in the World Cup. He’s still one of the best hookers in the world.
ROBY: If he’s fit he will play – Tomkins backs Roby for World Cup U-turn
10. Tom Burgess
Burgess has enjoyed a phenomenal career to date. He played two seasons in Super League with Bradford before joining NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs, where he has since made more than 200 appearances.
The 30-year-old has won 25 caps for his country and will play in his third World Cup this year.
11. Elliott Whitehead
Bradfordian Whitehead has been a mainstay in the England camp since making his international debut in 2014. He was also part of the Great Britain squad in 2019.
The Canberra Raiders forward will bring plenty of experience to Wane’s side, having made more than 350 career appearances.
12. John Bateman
Bateman is a player who has been successful in both hemispheres. The Bradfordian has won two Super League titles, a World Club Challenge and a Challenge Cup with Wigan.
The 28-year-old has won 17 caps for England and four for Great Britain.
13. Victor Radley
Sydney-born Radley has pledged his allegiance to England ahead of the World Cup because he wants to represent his father Nigel, who is from Sheffield.
The 24-year-old has sacrificed playing in State of Origin and for Australia by declaring for England. Radley plays with plenty of passion and desire, and will no doubt fit right into Wane’s style.
14. Micky McIlorum
McIlorum could play in his fourth World Cup this autumn. He has represented his Irish heritage in two tournaments and could play in his second for birth nation England this year.
There is no secret that Wane is a huge admirer of his former Wigan hooker McIlorum. The Catalans Dragons star played in England’s recent win over the Combined Nations All Stars.
15. Alex Walmsley
We’ve put Walmsley on the bench in our line-up purely because of the impact he could have when coming on midway through games when the opposition are fatigued.
The 6ft 5in, 18 stone powerhouse has developed into a cult hero in his 10 seasons at St Helens, where he has won four Super League titles and a Challenge Cup.
16. Morgan Knowles
Barrow-born Knowles played for Wales at the last World Cup in 2017. He represented his Welsh roots, qualifying on the account of his Rhondda-born mother.
But the St Helens forward switched allegiances to birth nation England in 2020. He made his England debut the following year against the Combined Nations All Stars.
The beauty of having Knowles on the bench is that he can play anywhere in the forward pack. He can even play at hooker if needed.
ADRIAN MORLEY: Morgan Knowles an England leader for many years
17. Matty Lees
The final spot on our bench goes to Lees, who has matured into one of Super League’s best front-rowers in recent years.
Lees might only be 24, but he has won three Grand Finals as well as playing more than 100 games for champions St Helens. The Rochdale-born forward made his England debut earlier this year,
Thanks to He Can Play For for their collaboration, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
PODCAST: Alex Walmsley on turning down NRL, World Cup pressure & John Kear influence
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