It’s a year to the day since a bunch of young English lads sent the Aussies packing.
December 8th is the first anniversary of England Academy’s 14-8 victory in the First Test of their series against the Australia Schoolboys.
It was a match, and a series, that saw several players emerge on our radar for the first time.
A year on, we take a look at the players who played in that series. They were billed as the sport’s future, but what have they managed to achieve in the 12 months since bursting onto the scene with a victory over the young Kangaroos?
Jack Welsby (St Helens)
He was the star of the series. Two tries in the second Test saw Welsby emerge as a bright young talent of the future.
He’s already gone some way to fulfilling his potential after playing a part in St Helens’ Grand Final winning side.
He made his debut last year, just a few short months before his international heroics.
But 2019 saw Welsby make 11 Super League appearances for Justin Holbrook’s side as they won the Grand Final for the first time in five years.
His performances in victories over Catalans and Warrington especially caught the eye as he bagged three tries during the campaign.
He didn’t play in the Grand Final, but he’s been rewarded with a new four-year contract.
A bright future awaits this 18-year-old.
Innes Senior (Huddersfield)
One of the Senior twins, Innes had already made his Super League debut too, having played eight times for the Giants.
But 2019 saw him play much more frequently, making 18 appearances for Simon Woolford’s side, scoring four tries.
While there remains a rawness to his game, Senior looks much more comfortable with the technical aspects of the game. He’s still only 19.
Cameron Scott (Hull FC)
The Academy captain, injury has seen Scott’s progress hindered somewhat this year after needing shoulder surgery.
But he still added another Super League appearance to his CV in April, having bagged six in 2018, and he spent the second half of the season at Championship club York, where he scored four tries in seven games.
Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos)
Leeds might not have had the year they wanted, but it’s not been a bad one for the centre.
He started the year tearing up the Championship with Featherstone. He ended it as Kallum Watkins’ successor after being handed the number three jersey.
He deserved it too. He made 22 appearances for Leeds last year, scoring nine tries, and being handed a new contract.
Louis Senior (Huddersfield Giants)
Four for Louis Senior 🙌🏉
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) September 17, 2019
The second Senior twin didn’t play as many games as his brother in 2019 but had a more memorable impact.
In the final game of the season, the Giants needed a win to secure Super League safety. Senior stepped up, scoring four tries, including one spectacular, long-distance effort, to secure the Giants the victory.
Eight tries in 13 games was an impressive return.
Callum McLelland (Leeds Rhinos)
The halfback had only just nicely returned to the 13-man code when he played for England.
But 2019 saw him get back up to speed and improve immensely.
Three appearances for the Rhinos just after Easter got him on his way, but it was at Featherstone where he stood out, as he helped steer them to the Championship Grand Final.
The youngster was superb, providing stunning performances with the boot, scoring four tries and creating many others.
He was in great form at the end of the season, he’ll be hoping to continue that in 2020.
Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors)
His kicking game wowed for England. It did the same domestically last year.
After a man of the match performance in the first Test, Smith was tipped for big things.
2019 saw him lead a team in the Championship. That was Swinton, who he played 16 times for and impressed thoroughly.
Those displays earned him a Wigan debut in September, marking it was a try in the 46-12 win over Catalans. He ended the year as the halfback for England Knights as they defeated Jamaica.
Oliver Wilson (Huddersfield Giants)
Wilson is another to make his Super League debut this year, ending the year with eight appearances for Huddersfield.
That came after the Giants paid a six-figure fee to sign the young prop from Bradford, which makes him one of the most expensive teenagers in the sport’s history.
Still only 19, you can see why Huddersfield made that investment.
Corey Johnson (Leeds Rhinos)
Johnson had a quieter year than most of his team-mates.
However, he ended the season with a Super League debut under his belt, playing in Leeds’ 26-4 win over Warrington on the final day of the season.
At 19, he still has time on his side.
Ethan Havard (Wigan Warriors)
Outstanding throughout the series, Havard continued his development with Wigan and earned a Super League debut in July, playing in the Warriors’ 46-16 win over Wakefield.
Expect to see more of him next year.
Sam Walters (Leeds Rhinos)
The towering back-rower is one of three players to have moved clubs since then.
Leeds came in to buy the forward from Widnes when they hit financial struggles.
He made his professional debut for Batley in July and ended the year as Leeds’ Academy Player of the Year.
James McDonnell (Wigan Warriors)
Match report to follow 🗞✅ pic.twitter.com/pvLYoQ8bgi
— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) August 29, 2019
The back-rower is only one of two not to play first-grade in 2019.
However, he was a key performer in Wigan’s title-winning Academy side.
Morgan Smithies (Wigan Warriors)
We don’t need to tell you much about this guy, do we?
Smithies looked ready for first-grade in this series.
All he’s done since is prove us right emphatically.
He has just turned 19. He only started training with the Wigan first-team in March. Now he has 24 games under his belt, holds a Super League record for tackles in a game and is the heir to Sean O’Loughlin’s throne.
Massive things are to be expected of this young man.
Muizz Mustapha (Leeds Rhinos)
The compact forward made his Leeds debut this year as they defeated Workington in the Challenge Cup.
However, he spent most of his time on loan at Newcastle in the second half of the year, scoring three tries in seven games for the League 1 side.
Not bad for a prop!
Joe Shorrocks (Wigan Warriors)
Shorrocks wasn’t as prominent as others this year.
However, he did make his Wigan debut in April and played for London Skolars later in the year.
He’s still only 20!
Tom Holroyd (Leeds Rhinos)
After making his Super League debut the year before, Holroyd managed to make another three appearances for the Rhinos this year, though a leg injury stopped him playing more.
But with plenty of departures from the Leeds pack, he should play more next year.
Owen Trout (Huddersfield Giants)
Another to make his Leeds debut last year, Trout earned three appearances after impressing on debut in the Challenge Cup win over Workington.
He made 15 appearances for Dewsbury during the season, scoring twice, and has now moved clubs after Huddersfield made a move for him as part of a deal that saw Kruise Leeming join the Rhinos.
Huddersfield have high-hopes for the ball-playing forward.
Tom Nisbet (St Helens)
Nisbet was called in for the second Test at Headingley.
He didn’t play at all last year but has received a squad number for 2020. He will wear the number 30 shirt.