15 England players could make debuts against France as Shaun Wane names new-look squad

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Seven St Helens players withdrew from international duty.

England head coach Shaun Wane has named a new-look 19-player squad for Saturday’s mid-season international against France at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium with only Jack Welsby now representing St Helens.

Seven Saints players have withdrawn: Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax, Lewis Dodd, Matty Lees, Alex Walmsley and Morgan Knowles.

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Youngster Welsby, Ben Currie, Kai Pearce-Paul and captain George Williams have previously represented England in a Test match, while as many as 15 players could earn their first caps.

Betfred Super League leaders Wigan Warriors have six players included in Wane’s squad and five of them – Ethan Havard, Toby King, Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies and Jake Wardle – could all receive their first caps. Wardle, a try-scorer for England in last season’s non-Test status international against the Combined Nations All Stars, has scored four tries in ten games this year for his new club.

Williams and Currie are joined by uncapped Warrington teammates Matty Ashton, James Harrison, Matty Nicholson, Josh Thewlis and Danny Walker. Four of the previously uncapped Wolves have impressed for the Knights in recent seasons while Harrison has been a standout at the Halliwell Jones Stadium since his 2022 move from Betfred Championship side Featherstone Rovers.

Also pushing for first international caps are Hull Kingston Rovers duo Jez Litten and Mikey Lewis, both of whom featured for Paul Anderson’s England Knights in wins against France and Scotland last year.

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Ash Handley and Tom Holroyd are included from Leeds Rhinos, while Tyler Dupree’s impressive form with Salford Red Devils earns him a call-up.

St Helens’ Jack Welsby in action for England. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty ImagesSt Helens’ Jack Welsby in action for England. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
St Helens’ Jack Welsby in action for England. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images | Getty Images

Wane said: “It was always my intention to pick a young squad for this mid-season game and I am really happy with the final 19 I’ve selected.

“All of these players have been picked based on their form in the Betfred Super League and with an eye on the next Rugby League World Cup in France in 2025.

“I am excited to see how some of these lads go on the international stage and it’s a massive privilege to be able to give them the opportunity to represent our country.”

England squad in full :

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Matty Ashton, Ben Currie (both Warrington Wolves), Tyler Dupree (Salford Red Devils), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos), James Harrison (Warrington Wolves), Ethan Havard (Wigan Warriors), Tom Holroyd (Leeds Rhinos), Toby King (Wigan Warriors), Mikey Lewis, Jez Litten (both Hull KR), Matty Nicholson (Warrington Wolves), Kai Pearce-Paul, Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies (all Wigan Warriors), Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker (both Warrington Wolves), Jake Wardle (Wigan Warriors), Jack Welsby (St Helens), George Williams (Warrington Wolves).

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