Leeds Rhinos starlet relishing final showdown with Tonga in familiar territory as England coach Shaun Wane admits disappointment in lack of Wigan test

Ben Olawumi
Harry Newman

Harry Newman in action for England against Tonga - Alamy

Leeds Rhinos centre Harry Newman can’t wait to run out in familiar territory at Headingley for England tomorrow as they conclude this autumn’s test series against Tonga.

Shaun Wane’s side have already wrapped up the bragging rights and the silverware which comes with a series win having won both of the first two tests, 22-18 in St Helens and 10-4 last weekend in Huddersfield.

Newman starred in both, and having been named in the 19-man squad for tomorrow’s final showdown with the Pacific visitors, should at the least feature as an interchange.

Leeds Rhinos ace Harry Newman relishing third and final Tonga test in familiar territory

National team chief Wane has expressed how much of a fan of Newman he is right the way through the series, vowing ahead of the three-parter’s beginning that Leeds would get a better player back at the end of it ahead of next season.

And having been lauded again earlier this week, the 23-year-old back wants to deliver oncemore in front of a packed-out Headingley tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking at a press conference in Leeds, he said: “Obviously here it’s going to be a massive crowd and that’s what the lads want. We want big crowds and especially here at Leeds, it’ll be special if I’m in that side.

“But we need that win, we want that win and to make it 3-0 will be massive. It’s gone well, but I know I’ve still got things I can work on.

“I’m 23 and it’s taken a long time to get to this point. I’ve had some tough times, but I’ve stuck at it, and that’s something I’ll always do.

“We want to win that game this weekend and with a full pre-season behind me, hopefully I can improve again.”

England head coach Shaun Wane gives thoughts on attendances so far and admits disappointment at lack of Wigan test

When the three venues were announced for this series earlier in the year, many – including ourselves here at Love Rugby League – were surprised to see the John Smith’s Stadium on there. Indeed, many believed that had there been an instalment at the DW Stadium instead, it would have been the perfect trio.

Speaking at England’s Robin Park Arena training base, in the shadow of Wigan Warriors’ home, ahead of last weekend’s game in Huddersfield, Wigan native Wane told Love Rugby League: “I’d have loved to play a test here.

“I loved it when we played Papua New Guinea here last year (in the World Cup), it was a great moment and a great day for me, but there’s obvious reasons why we’re going to Huddersfield and Leeds.

“They’re two great grounds and it doesn’t matter for me really. We could play at (Wigan) St Pats on Saturday, and I’d be into it, to tell you the truth!”

12,898 packed into the Totally Wicked Stadium for the series opener, with a reduced figure of 11,210 in Huddersfield last Saturday. A bumper crowd is expected tomorrow in Leeds, with Wane delivering a verdict on the attendances in this week’s pre-game presser.

He said: “The one at Huddersfield, the crowd wasn’t great, but it was bad weather. But in the World Cup, it (the support) was fantastic.

“The way they got behind us, playing Greece in Sheffield, it felt like an international game. We get a good result on Saturday, and the English crowd will get behind us, and hopefully it’ll be a different setup when we play Samoa next year.”

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