In issue 2916 of League Express, former Great Britain international Garry Schofield – one of our regular columnists – picked the England 13 that he would like to see take on the rest of the world in this year’s upcoming Four Nations tournament.
Some of his selections certainly got you talking, with our social media networks more active than they ever have been before with debate and comment! A fair few of you weren’t happy with Schoey’s selections – or at least some of them – so we decided to give you a chance to respond.
Over the past week, we’ve been using both our bustling forum and our social media platforms to ask YOU – our readers – to pick the player you would give the nod to in each position, were England to face a mid-season international in the coming weeks. After a week of voting time, the polling has closed, and we can now reveal the England team picked by the fans, with the most popular candidate in each position getting the nod!
Full-back: Sam Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors) – 67%
Despite him enduring a relatively slow start to life in the NRL, there can be little doubting that your confidence is still very much with Sam Tomkins, as he bagged over two-thirds of the vote to slot in at full-back for our England team picked by the fans.
Second place: Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos) – 24%
Garry Schofield picked: Sam Tomkins
Right wing: Thomas Makinson (St Helens) – 26%
His prolific start to 2014 has been rewarded, as our readers have chosen Makinson to fill the No. 2 shirt with just over a quarter of the vote. Incidentally, he edges out another young, prolific winger – Wigan’s Joe Burgess – but the superb Makinson is the man who slots in on the right side for your England side!
Second place: Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors) – 10%
Garry Schofield picked: Tom Briscoe
Right centre: Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos) – 44%
Little doubt for one of the centre slots, as you all agreed with Garry Schofield on this one; the exceptional Kallum Watkins joins Makinson in our backline for the fan-chosen England team, as he bags nearly half of the votes cast over the week to make it comfortably into the side. Agree with our team so far?
Second place: Jack Reed (Brisbane Broncos) – 9%
Garry Schofield picked: Kallum Watkins
Left centre: Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers) – 37%
He has played a major part in Castleford’s success so far in 2014, and well over a third of you decided that the Tigers captain is a certainty to make the cut for your England side, as Michael Shenton slots in at left centre to reward his superb partnership with the incredible Justin Carney! Will he get the call from Steve McNamara though at the end of this season, though?
Second place: Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants) – 8%
Garry Schofield picked: Zak Hardaker
Left wing: Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos) – 59%
You were in little doubt as to the man who should don the No. 5 shirt for England this year, as Ryan Hall pouched well over half of the vote in our week-long hunt to find out who England fans would pick in their ideal side to take on the world. Tom Briscoe was a distant second in this particular instance. In all honesty, there was never really any doubt on this one, as our fan vote proved!
Second place: Tom Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos) – 9%
Garry Schofield picked: Ryan Hall
Stand off: Gareth Widdop (St George-Illawarra Dragons) – 77%
Perhaps surprisingly, the biggest margin of victory came at stand off when, despite a lot of votes for the magnificent Kevin Brown, NRL-based Gareth Widdop became the second man playing overseas in our side, joining Sam Tomkins. He moved from Melbourne to St George last year, and it will be interesting to see whether Steve McNamara decides to run with Widdop as his first choice No. 6 – like you have done!
Second place: Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings) – 10%
Garry Schofield picked: Gareth Widdop
Scrum-half: Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) – 47%
A difference of opinion between Garry Schofield and yourselves here, as the in-form Castleford Tigers star joins Widdop in the halves, meaning some pretty big names miss out on inclusion in the backline – including current captain Kevin Sinfield! Whilst there is doubt over where Sneyd will play his club rugby next year, you were in little doubt that you wanted him in the England team!
Second place: Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors) – 22%
Garry Schofield picked: Matty Smith
Prop: George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs) – 45%
Into the forwards, and two standout selections from the readers over the past week, as two more NRL stars make the cut and fit into our fan-chosen England side. First up is George Burgess, whose reputation continues to grow in the Australian game with some outstanding performances. Even though his brother is heading for Rugby Union, you still wanted George to represent the Burgess family in the England side!
Second place: Craig Huby (Castleford Tigers) – 4%
Garry Schofield picked: George Burgess
Hooker: Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers) – 44%
Our closest contest came at hooker, where two of the standout players in the competition had a tough battle to make the cut in our England side. However, by just a few votes, Castleford’s Daryl Clark was the man who edged out James Roby, and he earns the No. 9 shirt in your national side, as chosen by you! If the Tigers continue to impress for the remainder of the season, can Clark force Steve McNamara’s hand?
Second place: James Roby (St Helens) 42%
Garry Schofield picked: Kevin Sinfield
Prop: James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs) – 43%
Joining George Burgess at prop is Canterbury’s James Graham, who comfortably makes the side despite a fair few votes elsewhere for some Super League stars. He beats the likes of Craig Huby and Kyle Amor – both of whom received some votes – to make the grade and be starting prop for England. With Graham and Burgess dominating the vote at prop, who fit in across the rest of the pack?
Second place: Kyle Amor (St Helens) – 3%
Garry Schofield picked: James Graham
Second-row: Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants) – 39 %
Ferres has been in great form since returning from his five-game ban earlier in the year, and you decided that he is the man who should occupy the first of two slots in the back row for England later this year. Although Wigan’s Liam Farrell was well supported, he couldn’t beat the Huddersfield man in our vote, who has bounced back to form well, and looks good value to make the cut for England later this year.
Second place: Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors) – 12%
Garry Schofield picked: Liam Farrell
Second-row: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors) – 22%
Whilst Liam Farrell didn’t get in, another Wigan Warriors star did – in the shape of youngster John Bateman. The former Bradford man has been incredible so far in 2014 after joining from Bradford, and he polled almost a quarter of the voting over the past seven days to comfortably make the cut. Will he get an England debut in real life at the end of the season after making the train-on squad?
Second place: Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves) 14%
Garry Schofield picked: Sean O’Loughlin
Loose-forward: Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors) – 69%
Completing our lineup in this England team chosen by you is Wigan’s inspirational skipper Sean O’Loughlin, who grabbed over two-thirds of the vote to comfortably step in at loose-forward. Your votes meant that current England captain Kevin Sinfield doesn’t get in – will this be the case when Steve McNamara picks his side for real later this year?
Second place: Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) – 13%
Garry Schofield picked: Liam Sutcliffe
That means both our readers and Garry Schofield – the man who drew so much criticism for his side – picked seven matching players in the two teams, with a fair few differences in some key positions. Thanks for voting if you did so, and if you didn’t, make sure you don’t miss out on our future debates/features by checking out our social media output.