Bateman to captain England in France

England coach Shaun Wane has named his side to take on France at Perpignan’s Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday (23 October, 2.30pm) and he has revealed that Wigan Warriors’ backorder John Bateman, whose 16 England caps make him the most experienced international in Wane’s 17, will captain a side containing eight players who will receive their first England international cap (excluding the game earlier this year against the Combined Nations All Stars, for which caps were not awarded).

Set to receive their first cap are: Jordan Abdull (Hull KR); Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons); Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers); Morgan Knowles (St Helens); Kruise Leeming (Leeds Rhinos); Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers); Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos); and Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves).

Davies, Knowles, McShane and Oledzki all enjoyed their first England experience earlier this year in the mid-season match against the All Stars, while Philbin played in two Test matches on Great Britain’s Southern Hemisphere tour in 2019.

Halfback Abdul was shortlisted for the 2021 Super League Man of Steel award, which was won by the injured Sam Tomkins.

Evalds was awarded the Lance Todd Trophy for his outstanding performance at fullback during Castleford Tigers’ Challenge Cup Final defeat by St Helens in July and hooker Kruise Leeming is one of six of Wane’s 17 who were named in this year’s Super League Dream Team.

“There’s a very positive mood in the camp, a great camaraderie. The lads have trained well and we’re ready to go,” said Wane.

“We have some outstanding leaders in the team, including John Bateman, who’ll be captain. I’ve known John since he was a kid; I trust him, I know what he’s capable of and he’s strong under pressure. And we have other strong leaders too, like Jonny Lomax in the halves and Mike Cooper in the front row.

“This is also a chance for the players to put a marker down for the World Cup. Some of them haven’t featured in an England set-up before and I’m really excited for them. Representing your country is a dream and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do in an England shirt.”

England team: Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers), Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Jordan Abdull (Hull KR), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves), John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Capt.), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Morgan Knowles (St Helens); Interchanges: Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves); Kruise Leeming (Leeds Rhinos); Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos); Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves).

The three players selected in the original 20-man squad who have note made the matchday 17 are Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Matty Lees (St Helens) and Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves). Walker captained the England Knights against Jamaica last Friday night at Castleford.

France versus England will be shown live on BBC TV on Saturday 23 October – part of an international double-header also featuring the England Women’s team against their French counterparts. The Women’s match will be shown live on BBC2 with a midday kick-off UK-time – the first England Women’s international to be broadcast on terrestrial TV – followed by live coverage of the Men’s international on BBC1 at 2.30pm.

England last played France in October 2018, claiming a comfortable 44-6 victory at Leigh Sports Village.