We have picked out six players who could gain entry to Wayne Bennett’s England squad for their mid-season Test against New Zealand in Denver.
Young and confident, this player has the pinnacle of what it takes to be a great English half-back.
Danny Richardson was a part of the St Helens unbeaten Championship Academy side and made his Super League debut in 2017 following a horrific eye-injury to teammate Matty Smith.
This year, the Widnes-born youngster has made his mark in Justin Holbrooks side, claiming a regular spot in the Super League team.
Richardson has kept Smith and French international Theo Fage from a starting spot, and his early-season link with Jonny Lomax inspired Saints to their winning starting ways. The former Widnes Vikings academy player has scored three tries this season, assisting eight more, whilst also leading the tally for most kicks at goal.
If not this year, we will definitely soon be seeing Richardson in the England squad.
Jake ‘the menace’ Connor. Super League’s best enemy, and a fan favourite at his home of Hull. This utility back would definitely bring a spark of life to the internationals scene.
Connor is arguably the league’s biggest wind up, managing to get under his opposition’s skin with ease. He is a passionate, skilful player that can play just about anywhere in the backline – currently covering the halves for a injury-hit Hull.
The former Huddersfield back joined Hull FC ahead of the 2017 season, and we’ve seen the best of his rugby in the colours of black and white.
Coach Lee Radford believes he’s good enough for England, and if he’s not on the plane to Denver come June, there will be plenty of disappointed fans.
Ryan Sutton has been a stand-out forward not only for the Warriors in 2018, but in the entire competition.
The prop has been linked with a move to NRL at the end of the current season, and it’s clear why. He is a consistent, tough and hard-hitting player and has a bright career ahead of him.
At the age of just 22, Sutton has made his impact felt in the league and has already played over 100 career games for Shaun Wane’s side. He was also a part of the 2016 Super League Grand Final winning team, as well as the World Club Challenge winners the following year.
Sutton is definitely a forward that can play alongside the likes of Sam Burgess and James Graham and will be pushing for a spot sooner rather than later.
Oliver Gildart, like Sutton, is a young English player in the Warriors squad and is one capable of breaking into England’s first-team squad.
The centre was named in Italy’s 2017 Rugby League World Cup squad, but soon after rejected the chance to travel to Australia and instead focused on the 2018 season with his club.
Gildart has made it no secret that his loyalty lies with England, and the 2017 Young Player of the Year could see his chance in the squad come soon with the recent injury to Leeds skipper Kallum Watkins, who will miss the remainder of the season.
Whilst not named in the England Knights squad, Sam Tomkins is proving that he still has was it takes to take the role of England number one.
The Wigan Warriors fullback struggled to find the form he was best known for after returning to his home-club in 2016, but this year has sparked a new life into his game.
The 29-year-old played a massive part of Wigan’s recent dominant display over Warrington at Magic Weekend, and is showing the form that he left with when joining the New Zealand Warriors.
With Luke Gale out injured and the international retirement from Kevin Brown, Gareth Widdop may be moved to halfback leaving the role of fullback for Tomkins to fill.
Like Sutton, St Helens’ Luke Thompson has been one of the best front-rowers in Super League this season.
Thompson has kicked on another level since Justin Holbrook arrived at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Thompson already has a Super League Grand Final winner’s ring and he could have another one come October, with Saints flying high at the top of the table.
A fun little fact is that he was in the same form as Knights team-mate Joe Burgess at St Edmund Arrowsmith High.
The Saints academy product has represented England Academy and has been named in Paul Anderson’s England Knights performance squad. Some St Helens fans have dubbed him ‘the next James Graham’. Thompson and Sutton are future internationals, for sure, but who knows if they will make the cut for Denver.