NRL player availability, France selection policy: Key takeaways from Shaun Wane’s England press call

Aaron Bower
England rugby league team in 2023

Shaun Wane met with the media on Monday to discuss both the upcoming Test against France and the now-confirmed two-match series against Samoa later in the year.

As always, there were plenty of topics on the agenda – including Wane’s own future. He has been extensively linked to a number of jobs in the NRL, and was asked by Love Rugby League about that on the call.

You can read Wane’s answer in the piece below – but away from his own future, here’s everything we learned from the England head coach about this year and beyond for the national team.

READ NEXT: Shaun Wane makes England commitment amidst NRL coaching speculation

Selection policy for France

Wane has confirmed he will go with a younger, more inexperienced squad for the Test match in Toulouse next weekend.

That is primarily with a long-term view of the next World Cup in 2026, with Wane now beginning of the process of blooding players at international level so they can be prepared for two years down the line.

“It’s going to be a blend of people who’ve done it in the past for me, people who have performed for me in the past.. but I want people who are going to be good for The Ashes so it’s going to be quite young. I’m trying to keep it as young as possible, it’ll be quite different from the Samoan team.”

“It’ll be a lot with The Ashes and the World Cup in mind.”

NRL player availability

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there will be no big names from the NRL flying in to take part in the camp and the Test match against France.

That means the likes of Victor Radley, Herbie Farnworth, Dom Young, Kai Pearce-Paul and John Bateman will be missing, further opening the door for younger, inexperienced players to make their mark against France.

“It’ll be all Super League-based without a shadow of a doubt, and hopefully some young players will shine.

Backroom staff update

Wane will not be joined by Lee Briers for the upcoming Test against France, but all the indications are that he will be in the staff team for the series against Samoa.

Wane will have his other assistant, Andy Last, on hand though – and he is hopeful Last, who is on the staff at Catalans Dragons, can provide valuable insight on the French.

“We’ve saved some money on no air fare for him,” Wane laughed. “Lasty has been with me from day one, and it’s just me and him in that game.”

READ NEXT: Brits Down Under: Farnworth & Whitehead on scoresheet, Smithies top tackler for Canberra

Potential dropout issues

Recent England squads have been plagued by dropouts among high-profile players, particularly when it comes to mid-season international fixtures.

But Wane has stressed that he is hopeful clubs will allow all their players to be available – and that the players themselves want to play.

He said: “Honestly, hand on heart, the conversations I’ve had with CEOs and head coaches have been really positive. Everyone wants to be available.

“The conversations I’ve had with senior players about who is happy to play – because it’s an intense season and I’ve not had a session on a field with an England team – I’m asking if they’re mentally ready to play. The answer is yes, they want a Test cap, a Test match and they want to play for England. I’ve been very satisfied with how the clubs have handled it.”

Hooking dilemma

Wane has been consistent with his hooking duo in recent times, with Danny Walker and Daryl Clark the pairing of choice.

However, Wane admitted there is another name in the mix this time: Wigan Warriors star Brad O’Neill, who is yet to earn a first international call-up but has already won every domestic trophy available in the game.

“Brad is a good player, Danny is a good player and Daryl is brilliant – they’ll all put their hands up and have a chance of playing in France,” Wane said.

READ NEXT: Ranking Super League’s top 10 try-scoring hookers after Daryl Clark hat-trick for St Helens