Six Celtic internationals who could push for Great Britain spot

Drew Darbyshire

We’ve picked out six players who have represented Wales, Scotland or Ireland who could push for a place in the Great Britain squad for their tour of the southern hemisphere this autumn.

Please note: We have specifically picked players who have previously played for the Celtic nations. This excludes Australian-born players who have yet to represent Wales, Scotland or Ireland.

Morgan Knowles (Wales)

The 22-year-old is having an incredible season for St Helens in Super League. Knowles has quickly turned himself into being one of the best utility-forwards in the competition.

Knowles – who hails from Cumbria – can play in the back-row, at loose forward and can even do a job at hooker. He has earned four caps for Wales since making his international bow in 2015.

On Knowles, Saints coach Justin Holbrook told Love Rugby League: “For me, Morgan is the most underrated player in Super League. When you talk about Great Britain tours, he is the first player I’d pick – he is that good.”

Lachlan Coote (Scotland)

There are thousands of fans in the St Helens area that think the reason the Saints are top of Super League this season is because of Coote.

The 29-year-old has been a delight to watch since his arrival in the off-season from NRL side North Queensland Cowboys. He has played for Scotland three times and qualifies for the Bravehearts because his grandmother was born in Glasgow.

On representing Scotland, Coote told The Sun: “If they want to pick me, I’d be very honoured and it would be a very good trip to be a part of. I never really expected to be talked about when it comes to being picked for Great Britain but if I don’t make it, I’d love to pull on a Scotland jersey.”

Ben Flower (Wales)

The Wigan front-rower has been one of the toughest forwards in Super League over the last decade. He is currently in his eighth season with the Warriors, having made 169 appearances for the club.

Flower was born and raised in Cardiff, Wales. The 31-year-old has made 16 appearances for his country but has not played for the Dragons since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

In conversation with Wigan Today, Flower said: “If I got the chance to play for Great Britain, and play against the best teams in the world, that would be the highlight of my career.”

Joe Philbin (Ireland)

The Ireland international has gone under the radar in Super League over the last couple of years, but he is certainly appreciated in the Warrington camp and coach Steve Price will be glad to have him.

Despite only being 24, Philbin has already made over 100 appearances for hometown club Warrington. He has earned three caps for the Wolfhounds via family heritage since first playing for them in 2016, scoring one try at the last World Cup.

Philbin also represented England Knights on their tour of Papua New Guinea last year. The blockbusting back-rower is mainly used as an impact sub and causes havoc when he enters the field, so could he be a surprise selection in Wayne Bennett’s side?

Regan Grace (Wales)

The 22-year-old was born in Port Talbot – which is a town famous for its steelworks – but moved over to St Helens during his academy days after being spotted while playing for South Wales Scorpions’s Under-16s side.

Grace has been immense for Saints since making his first-team debut back in 2016. He has scored 45 tries in 76 appearances for the club and he is brilliant to watch in full flight. Grace has scored three tries in six internationals for Wales.

On Grace’s Great Britain chances, Saints coach Justin Holbrook told Love Rugby League: “He’s definitely capable but there are so many good wingers available.”

Micky McIlorum (Ireland)

The Wigan legend and now Catalans hooker might be 31 but he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down just yet. He is still the powerful defender in the middle of the park and is so direct with the ball in hand.

McIlorum was born in Leeds but made his international debut for Ireland at the 2008 World Cup as he qualified through his grandfather. He represented England at the 2013 World Cup, before switching allegiances back to Ireland for the 2017 tournament.

On representing Ireland, McIlorum tweeted: “As a heritage player, I can say I’m extremely proud to play for my Irish family name and grandfather!”

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