BEING an England international is the pinnacle for a rugby league player born on English shores.
Representing your country, there is no better feeling than pulling on that England jersey, and, whilst some are blessed to do just that on multiple occasions, others have to bide their time and wait for their opportunity.
Well, with England and France set to meet in April, it could be time for some new England players on the block, but just which four players could make their debut?
Leeds Rhinos captain in 2022, Kruise Leeming was left out of Shaun Wane’s squad for the Rugby League World Cup – much to the surprise of many people. The hooker had enjoyed a stellar year with the Rhinos and admitted he was ‘hurt’ with his omission. However, with Catalans Dragons number nine Michael McIlorum in the twilight of his career, the time could be nigh for Leeming to make his mark on the national squad. Aged just 27, the Eswatini-born livewire may have a point to prove to Wane if the ex-Wigan boss continues in his role.
It may seem like a selection out of left-field, but Morgan Gannon is one of the rising stars of the British game and he is already being hailed as the next big thing. At 19 years of age, the back-rower has one England Knights appearance and would have made the Grand Final side with Leeds Rhinos in 2022 had he not faced a difficult concussion. With a maturity that belies his youthful age and a skillset that can wow audiences, Gannon has a huge future ahead of him and he could force himself into Wane’s thinking in April.
Having missed most of the 2022 Super League season with a serious Achilles injury, St Helens halfback Lewis Dodd will be raring to go in 2023. The mercurial halfback is still only 20 years of age yet he is being tasked to be the next face of St Helens and continue the great form of his predecessors. With that in mind, Dodd does not seemingly feel the pressure and the number 7 already has 34 appearances to his name despite sitting out a plethora of games last year. It could well be an interesting trial if Wane goes with Dodd in April.
In what was a bitterly disappointing year for Hull FC in 2022, one man continued to stand out and that was the man with the greatest mullet in Super League – Brad Fash. The Hull forward can play anywhere in the back-row and do so to a consistently high standard, so much so that Fash has earned almost 100 Hull appearances since debuting back in 2015. The 26-year-old did make an appearance for the England Knights back in 2018, but he will be hoping to kick on under new head coach Tony Smith at the MKM Stadium in 2023.
This man can achieve anything he wants to in the sport of rugby league. Level-headed, mature and with a father in Leon Pryce who can keep him grounded, Will Pryce has just about everything in the locker. Skilful, communicative and confident, Pryce has the ability to unlock defences with his step, a pass or a kick and there is no doubt that the 20-year-old will be an England international in the near future. April may come too soon for Pryce, but it would be interesting to see if Wane could be lured into giving the NRL-bound star a shot.