Exiles coach Brian McClennan has named 18 of his 22-man Exiles squad, a team made up of the cream of overseas talent drawn from the Engage Super League, with Super League early season pacesetters Warrington Wolves have the biggest representation with four players (Louis Anderson, Matt King, Brett Hodgson, Joel Monaghan). Engage Super League Grand Final winners Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants have three players each with Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos and St Helens represented with two imports each. Castleford Tigers and Catalan Dragons complete the mix with a player each.
New Zealander McClennan has included the top 13 fan picks and an additional five selections of his own choice and will announce a further a further four selections, one per week throughout May, to reveal his 22-man squad.
“The make-up of the squad looks very exciting,” said McClennan. “We have some terrific talent at our disposal with vast experience at the highest level.
“The fans have made some intelligent selections throughout the voting process over the past month. Their selections mirror the type of squad I am looking to build. Their fan picks will serve as the nucleus of my squad going into the game against England.
“A game of this nature will lift the profile of the sport throughout the northern hemisphere and will see the best players in the Engage Super League battling it out in what will be a breathtaking contest between two highly talented teams.”.
Exiles captain and Leeds Rhinos hooker Danny Buderus is also looking forward to the match and is excited about the prospect of playing against some his club colleagues, who will be part of the England squad.
“This is a fabulous concept and the RFL deserves credit in bringing new innovation to the sporting calendar,” said Buderus.
“The idea in getting the fans to select part of the team has generated awareness and some real talking points around the match. Normally, for international and rep games you would start two weeks out building up to it but with constant talking points and selections from the coach and the fans this has been on the radar for last two months, which can only be a good thing for raising the profile of the sport.
“Our biggest challenge will be gelling as a unit as we will have less than a week in camp as a group. The beauty is that we know each from our backgrounds in the NRL and it won’t take us long to adapt to each other.
“There is a lot of interest from the fans. I would like to see the Rugby League public coming out in force at Headingley Carnegie and supporting the game. I can guarantee that this will be one of the great contests of the season and a packed house at Headingley Carnegie will be brilliant.”
To mark the inaugural fixture between England and the Exiles, the RFL’s kit supplier ISC have designed a distinctive black, yellow, green and white strip for the Exiles. Fans can buy the new shirt from May 20 by logging onto www.rugbyleagueonline.co.uk
Details of Exiles squad are below:
Danny Buderus (captain) (Leeds Rhinos & Australia), Thomas Leuluai (vice captain, Wigan Warriors & New Zealand), Louis Anderson (Warrington Wolves & New Zealand), George Carmont (Wigan Warriors & New Zealand), Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers & New Zealand), David Fa’alogo (Huddersfield Giants & New Zealand), David Faiumu (Huddersfield Giants & New Zealand), Craig Fitzgibbon (Hull FC & Australia), Brett Hodgson (Warrington Wolves & Australia), Matt King (Warrington Wolves & Australia), Kylie Leuluai (Leeds Rhinos & New Zealand), Steve Menzies (Catalan Dragons & Australia), Joel Monaghan (Warrington Wolves & Australia), Luke O’Donnell (Huddersfield Giants & Australia), Mark O’Meley (Hull FC & Australia), Tony Puletua (St Helens & New Zealand), Pat Richards (Wigan Warriors & Australia), Iosia Soliola (St Helens & New Zealand).
Bold denotes players selected by the fans
In a unique concept to British sport, the initial 34-strong squad was reduced to 22, in part by public selection. Over 10,000 fans have registered and made their initial selections. This marked the first time in UK sporting history that the public chose a team, with fans having the chance to select 13 of the 22 squad members to face England. The remaining nine selections will be made by the Exiles coaching staff.
Pre-purchased tickets for the International Origin match start from £19 for adults and £12 for concessions and are available at www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.ukor by contacting the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113. Tickets purchased on the day of the match start from £22 for adults and £15 for concessions.