James Graham highlights two players key to England’s World Cup campaign

James Graham England World Cup SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

James Graham believes two of his former St Helens team-mates will be absolutely key to any success that England have at the upcoming World Cup.

The England and Saints legend is talking about half-back Jonny Lomax and utility back Jack Welsby.

Lomax, 31, has won four Super League titles and a Challenge Cup with hometown club St Helens as well as winning 15 caps in total for Great Britain and England.

“I think he is one of the best half-backs in the world,” Graham told The Roar’s World Cup Chasers Podcast when speaking of Lomax.

“He has had a terrific journey and is a close friend of mine. I love watching him play and I love playing with him.

“He was the best player in the competition in England in 2019 and 2020. I think he should have got Man of Steel in those years but he didn’t. He was the most influential and best player in Super League for those two years back-t0-back, without doubt.

“I’ve not watched as much of him this year but I know what he’s capable of. By all reports he is playing at that same standard.

“He has played really well for England in the past; and will be a key part of any success that England have.”

James Graham tips Jack Welsby to cause havoc at World Cup

Welsby has already played 80 first team games for St Helens despite only being 21 years of age. He made his international debut for England in their 18-4 win over the Combined Nations All Stars in June.

“I can remember watching one of Jack Welsby’s first games which happened to be against the Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge,” Graham recalled.

“And I thought ‘oh no, they’ve put him in against the Roosters in his first or second game’ but he stood his ground. He was fantastic that night and he has just gone from strength to strength.

“I was fortunate to play with him at the back end of the 2020 season when I went back to Saints. He was a phenomenal talent then and I think we’re just scratching the surface with Jack as well.

“I don’t think he realises how good he can be.

“He’ll be a very handy addition to the England side. He will want to start no doubt and he’ll want to displace Sam Tomkins (at full-back) or try and get a spot in the halves somewhere. But if not, then he would be fantastic coming off the bench for us to lighten the game up.

“Give him the free rein to go and do whatever he wants to do and create a bit of havoc with the ball and create some opportunities in attack. When forwards are getting tired the last thing you want is Jack Welsby running at you.”

World Cup hosts England get the tournament underway with a clash against Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle on October 15.

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About Drew Darbyshire 8329 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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