17 October 2023

Shaun Wane urges England to learn lessons from World Cup ahead of Tonga series

17 October 2023

England head coach Shaun Wane has urged his side to learn the lessons from last year’s World Cup heartbreak as they prepare to kick off their three-match international series against Tonga in St Helens on Sunday.

Wane has named an initial 24-man squad for the series, which will mark their first serious test since their agonising golden-point semi-final defeat to Samoa at the Emirates Stadium last November, following a facile 64-0 win over France in June.

“We fell short at the World Cup and we need to improve,” said Wane, whose squad is a blend of youth and experience, and includes Wigan captain Liam Farrell, making his first appearance since 2021 after missing the World Cup with a knee injury.

“Tonga are very talented and their players play in an unbelievable competition so it is a massive challenge for us.

“Samoa was a massive test for us last year and we fell short, but we learned a lot of lessons and we have made progress. I’m very happy with the squad that I’ve got and I’m really excited to see how the young players perform in such a pressured environment.”

Farrell is one of four players from the newly-crowned Super League champions to be included in the squad along with team-mates Tyler Dupree, Toby King and Harry Smith.

England captain George Williams has also been named in the squad despite awaiting the results of a disciplinary tribunal which could rule him out for all or part of the action.

Catalans winger Tom Johnstone and St Helens full-back Jack Welsby – both Man of Steel nominees – are included, and there is also a place for Leigh forward Robbie Mulhern after an impressive campaign with the Challenge Cup winners.

Wane added: “I’m really happy with the mixture of senior players and young kids, and I know they’re all proud to represent their country.

“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.”

Nevertheless Wane’s options were hampered by a series of injury-enforced withdrawals, including Saints duo Jonny Lomax and Alex Walmsley and Wigan centre Jake Wardle, fresh from winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match on Saturday.

Dismissing questions over the international futures of the likes of Lomax, who also missed out on the World Cup, Wane continued: “Without sounding nasty, I’ve forgotten about them. The only people I’m thinking about are in the 24-man squad.”

England squad to face Tonga: 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)

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