Winners and losers from England squad: Leeds Rhinos duo get chance to impress, form men miss out

Aaron Bower
Junior Nsemba and Ash Handley

Shaun Wane has named his first England squad of 2024 ahead of this weekend’s Test in France, and there’s no shortage of big talking points to dissect.

With six new names called up for the first time, Wane has delivered on his promise that he would pick players based off their Super League form. But there are a couple of individuals who may consider themselves unfortunate to miss out.

Here are our winners and losers from the squad selection.


As well as the form players in the England squad, there’s one or two more established names whose inclusions may have caught people off-guard. Leeds Rhinos centre Harry Newman is arguably high up on that list; undoubtedly a mercurial, international-standard talent, Newman’s form hasn’t quite been at its peak this year.

However, Wane is a big fan of Newman and the way he has applied himself in England camps over the recent past. If cleared to play this weekend, the France game could be an ideal opportunity for him to rediscover his best form and firmly lock down a position in Wane’s squad long-term. His Leeds team-mate, Ash Handley, is another who has the same opportunity.

With other wingers performing well across Super League but missing out here, Handley has a real chance to stake a claim. He’s a winner without question.

So too is Castleford’s Sam Wood. A player who has been consistently fantastic for Craig Lingard’s side in 2024 but with the Tigers’ troubles at the wrong end of Super League, few really gave consideration to him being in contention. He is another who will hope a good display this weekend cements him a regular England role.

Wigan Warriors prop Luke Thompson earns a deserved recall too after an outstanding first half of 2024 with the reigning champions. There have been few, if any, props on the level of Thompson at times in Super League and he’s one who certainly feels at home in an international squad.

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Wane will likely provide a clearer update this week on some of the players who have missed out and while he wouldn’t be expected to name-check everyone, you’d think Junior Nsemba’s name would be high on the list of players asked about.

The Wigan Warriors forward has been exceptional this season for Matt Peet’s side and was one many expected to be a near-certainty to get a call into a squad that was always going to have a heavy nod towards youth and the future prospects of the national side.

With so many top-quality wingers at his disposal to choose from, there were always going to be high-profile omissions in that department. Warrington duo Matty Ashton and Josh Thewlis would feel a touch unlucky to not be included given their form at club level this year, while Liam Marshall’s wait for a first Test cap also goes on.

And what about Salford Red Devils? One of Super League’s most entertaining sides doesn’t have a single call-up, though they will privately be quite pleased about that, given how it means they can enjoy the week off and rest up ahead of the run-in to the play-offs.

Oliver Partington is definitely one whose form was good enough to get him a call-up, while despite being arguably the standout half in Super League of late, Marc Sneyd’s international career looks to be over after missing out again.


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