England Knights coach Kieron Purtill has named a 19-man squad for the upcoming friendly against Samoa at Salford City Stadium on Saturday October 19 (2.00pm).
The squad features players from 10 different Super League clubs, including six from the 2013 Super League Grand Finalists – Dom Crosby, Sam Powell, Scott Taylor and Iain Thornley of Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves duo Stefan Ratchford and Richie Myler.
The match is a curtain-raiser to the England v Italy (4.30pm) international at Salford City Stadium which will be the first chance for fans to see England’s NRL-based players, including the Burgess brothers Sam, Tom and George, in action.
With Rugby League World Cup 2013 fast approaching, and the deadline for the final senior squad announcement not until England arrive back from their high-altitude training in South Africa, the match against Samoa represents the last chance for players to force themselves into Steve McNamara’s plans.
“We’re all very pleased with the squad that we have selected, and it is a good opportunity for all the players, you never know who is watching,” said Purtill.
“It was definitely a tough selection. The Knights started a couple of years ago and our aim was to produce and develop a talented young squad of players for English Rugby League. Now we’re starting to step it up towards the World Cup.
“The tournament definitely serves as motivation for the players. There are still three weeks to go until Steve McNamara can change his squad, so we have told the players to prepare as if they were playing full internationals.”
Samoa are preparing for World Cup group games against New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and France and Purtill believes that playing against full internationals will tell him a lot about his own players.
“There has been a positive progression with the players and the game against Samoa is going to be their toughest test,” he said.
“Samoa is a team full of NRL players preparing themselves for the World Cup, so it will be a good gauge of the players’ progression.
“They will definitely be able to handle the test. You only get picked for the Knights if we think you can handle international Rugby League.”
England Knights squad in full: (professional and community clubs in brackets):
Ben Cockayne (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Normanton Knights)
Dom Crosby (Wigan, Wigan & Leigh College)
Kieran Dixon (London Broncos, Hemel Stags)
Chris Green (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
Josh Hodgson (Hull KR, East Hull)
Josh Jones (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Ben Jones-Bishop (Leeds Rhinos, Queens)
Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield, Newsome Panthers)
Jonathan Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James)
Tom Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes)
Richard Myler (Warrington, Halton West Bank)
Sam Powell (Wigan, Wigan St Patricks)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington, Wigan St Patricks)
Dan Sarginson (London Broncos, Hemel Stags)
Brad Singleton (Leeds Rhinos, (Barrow Island)
Scott Taylor (Wigan, Skirlaugh)
Iain Thornley (Wigan, Wigan St Patricks)
Liam Watts (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons, West Bowling)