Super League players who have boosted England chances including Hull KR duo, Leeds Rhinos, St Helens

Drew Darbyshire
Elliot Minchella, Ash Handley, Matt Whitley Super League Alamy

Elliot Minchella (left), Ash Handley (centre) and Matt Whitley (right) in Super League action

It’s early still very early in the Super League season of course, but there’s already been a number of outstanding individual displays, with a few players potentially catching the eyes of England boss Shaun Wane.

Although it has yet to be officially confirmed by the Rugby Football League, England are set to travel to France for a mid-season test in Toulouse on the weekend of June 29-30. Discussions are still ongoing with Samoa regarding the proposed test series on English soil at the end of the season this autumn.

The opening rounds of the Super League season have been full of excitement, drama and pulsating action, so we’ve highlighted four players, who weren’t part of England’s series win over Tonga last autumn, that may have caught Wane’s eyes in the early rounds…

Elliot Minchella

Hull KR have enjoyed two wins from two in what has been a strong start to 2024 from Willie Peters’ side. Minchella has taken on the captaincy at the Robins this year, and you can see why he was chosen to do so.

Minchella leads from the front and doesn’t take a backwards step in attack or defence from his loose forward role. He’s got good ball-playing skills to go alongside his toughness in defence.

The 28-year-old has established himself as one of Super League’s leading forwards in recent years, and with no England caps to his name (yet), you wonder just how close he is to being in and around Wane’s plans moving forward.

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Ash Handley

Ash Handley Leeds Rhinos Alamy
Leeds winger Ash Handley

The Rhinos winger has enjoyed a terrific start to the season, being named in Love Rugby League‘s Team of the Week in back-to-back rounds.

Handley has scored three tries in the first two games, including a stunning solo effort in their opening round win over Salford. He is also the top metre maker in the competition, with an average of 183 metres made in the first two rounds.

The Leeds-born flier won representative honours with England Knights on their tour of Papua New Guinea in 2018, and represented his country in the World Cup 9s the following year. He made his senior England debut in last year’s 64-0 win over France in Warrington, but wasn’t part of Wane’s squad that beat Tonga.

If Handley carries on in this rich vein of form, you’d think more international caps are coming his way in the near future.

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Matt Whitley

Matt Whitley St Helens Alamy

It’s pretty fair to say that Whitley is loving being back in the Red V – more than a decade after being released by the club as a scholarship player!

The 28-year-old grew up supporting his beloved Saints, and the power of playing for your boyhood club shouldn’t be underestimated. He’s already got his own chant on the terraces at the Totally Wicked Stadium!

Whitley may not be the biggest back-rower in Super League – but that doesn’t affect him in the slightest. He’s already scored three tries in the first two rounds, knows how to run a smart line and is a grafter in defence.

The Billinge-born back-rower has played three games for England Knights. Could his senior England debut be around the corner?

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Jez Litten

Jez Litten Hull KR Alamy

The 25-year-old has really kicked on in his career in the last couple of seasons after arriving at Craven Park ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Litten, who has been given the No. 9 shirt at Hull KR this year, put in a man of the match display in their Round 2 win over Leeds, and the Robins may have just found their permanent goal-kicker.

Like Handley, Litten made his England debut in last year’s win over France, but didn’t make the cut for the Tonga series. With the likes of Daryl Clark, Danny Walker, Brad O’Neill, Kruise Leeming and Litten competing for an England dummy half spot, it’s fair to say that England’s hooking positions for the foreseeable is in safe hands.

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