England coach Shaun Wane narrows down options to be the country's next captainJune 18, 2021
SHAUN Wane admits the battle to become England’s new rugby league captain is down to two candidates.
The national coach gets to lead his side into battle in next Friday’s mid-season clash with the Combined Nations All Stars.
But who replaces Sean O’Loughlin as skipper remains open to debate – and whoever gets the armband could be different than whoever leads them at the World Cup.
And nothing was given away about who is in the running.
Wane, who named a 24-man squad this morning, said: “Honestly, I’ve not finalised my team for this game yet but from my thoughts in my head, I’ve got two captains I want.
“I’ve not finalised that yet and if form gets better or deteriorates, that would change my mind later in the year.”
And when asked if both candidates play in Super League, the NRL or one from each, he simply added: “I’m down to two.”
George Williams has been included in England’s squad as he returns home following his brutal axing by NRL side Canberra Raiders.
And it is a league of nations as Toby King, Joe Philbin and Morgan Knowles are included after previously representing Ireland and Wales respectively – international rules allow the England-born stars to switch.
While Leeds’ Poland-born prop Mikolaj Oledzki is also in, along with Salford’s Australia-born Dan Sarginson.
And Wane admits Great Britain’s Australia-born international Jackson Hastings, who will co-captain the All Stars, can play his way into his plans as he puts Super League’s renewed Covid-19 issues to one side.
He added: “It’s not just Jackson. I watch every player and I’ve always got my eyes open and noticing players who are playing consistently well to the standard I want. He’s one of them.
“Whatever happens will happen. I’m sure everybody’s done their due diligence and the game will be on next Friday.
“These are exciting times. I’m coaching my country and it’s head down, work hard and make sure we perform next Friday.”
Castleford hooker Paul McShane will make his international bow after being included along with Warrington’s Daryl Clark, while it was agreed St Helens’ veteran James Roby should sit it out.
Wakefield’s Joe Westerman has earned a recall after a seven-year absence while there are first call-ups for Catalans’ Tom Davies and Huddersfield’s Jake Wardle.
Warrington’s Gareth Widdop, billed as the best player in Super League by club boss Steve Price, misses out, as does Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone, who has just returned after two months out with concussion problems.
Wigan’s Zak Hardaker is banned after picking up a two-game suspension for headbutting Catalans’ Sam Tomkins and the postponement of last week’s clash at Huddersfield.
ENGLAND SQUAD TO FACE COMBINED NATIONS ALL STARS
Bateman, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Davies, Farrell, Gale, Handley, King, Knowles, Lyne, Lomax, McShane, Makinson, McGillvary, Oledzki, Philbin, Ratchford, Sarginson, Tomkins, Walmsley, Wardle, Westerman, Williams.
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