England Head Coach Shaun Wane has named his 24-player squad for the upcoming three-game series against Tonga.
This historic series – the first between the two nations and their first meeting since the epic 2017 World Cup semi-final in Auckland – will see England host Tonga this Sunday at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium, before meetings at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium (Saturday 28 October) and at the AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds, on Saturday 4 November with all games kicking off at half past two.
Wane names five NRL players who also featured in last autumn’s World Cup campaign, including winger Dom Young – the NRL’s leading try-scorer in his last season with Newcastle Knights – John Bateman, Tom Burgess, Victor Radley and Elliott Whitehead.
Another free-scoring winger is also included: Catalans Dragons’ Tom Johnstone, who scored a hat-trick on his first and only appearance for England against France in 2018. Since moving to Perpignan, the 28-year-old has put behind him two career-threatening ACL injuries and topped the Betfred Super League try-scoring charts this year as the Dragons reached last Saturday’s Grand Final but fell short against Wigan Warriors. Dragons teammate Mike McMeeken is also selected.
Wigan’s Grand Final-winning captain Liam Farrell returns to the squad for the first time since 2021, alongside teammates Tyler Dupree, Toby King and Harry Smith.
And after being called up to the wider performance squad just a fortnight ago, Leigh Leopards forward Robbie Mulhern also earns a call-up following an impressive season which saw him lift the Betfred Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium in August.
Elsewhere there are four St Helens players selected – among them Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel nominee Jack Welsby – whilst Chris Hill, Harry Newman and Mikey Lewis represent Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR respectively.
Skipper George Williams is one of five Warrington Wolves players selected, although the extent of his involvement could be determined by a disciplinary tribunal hearing being held this evening (Tuesday 17 October).
England Head Coach, Shaun Wane, says:
“I’m really pleased with the 24 players coming into camp as we look to beat Tonga in this three-game series. All of the players included have impressed me throughout their respective Super League and NRL campaigns and are worthy of representing their country in this historic series.
“We’ve got a real strong mix of experience and youth combining players who featured in last year’s World Cup, this year’s mid-season international and some who are returning to the international frame.
“My message to the fans now is: come out and get behind this team in St Helens, Huddersfield and Leeds in the coming weeks!”
Several players are unavailable for selection because of injury, including Brisbane Broncos centre Herbie Farnworth. In recent weeks all the Super League and NRL clubs have been helpful and supportive around the availability of their players for international duty, and where necessary there have been detailed and confidential discussions around individual players involving England’s Chief Medical Officer. In those instances where players have been withdrawn from the selection pool, there has been strong medical evidence to support those decisions.
Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves), John Bateman (Wests Tigers), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark, Ben Currie (both Warrington Wolves), Tyler Dupree, Liam Farrell (both Wigan Warriors), Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants), Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons), Toby King (Wigan Warriors), Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees (both St Helens), Mikey Lewis (Hull KR), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons), Robbie Mulhern (Leigh Leopards), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters), Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Jack Welsby (St Helens), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), George Williams (Warrington Wolves), Dom Young (Newcastle Knights)
Tickets for the England versus Tonga series are on sale now at eticketing.co.uk/rugbyleague from £25 Adults and £12.50 Under 16s. A three-match bundle is also available from £52.50 Adults and £26.25 Under 16s. Those looking to book 10 tickets or more can save 30% on single matches, with prices from £17.50 for Adults and £8.75 for under 16s – available now via the Groups Sales team at email@example.com or 0844 856 1115.