My team of players who could challenge England

Talking Rugby League with League Express editor Martyn Sadler

Last week Shaun Wane named a 35-man England squad.

Those of us who had been expecting some changes from the 35-man squad he announced on 4 November last year were disappointed, as Shaun made no changes to the squad he named then, pointing out that to change his squad on the evidence of just two games in the new season would be too hasty. And in fact he selected his squad on the Monday after the first round of Super League fixtures had been completed.

That means that the players I mentioned in my article in last week’s League Express have not been selected, although they do have plenty of time to make a case for themselves as the season unfolds, and I’m sure most of them will.

It’s often said that you can judge a squad by the quality of the players who haven’t been selected.

In the meantime it gives me an opportunity to select a hypothetical England team made up of players who haven’t been selected in Shaun’s squad.

How’s about this for a matchday 17, which has been selected on players’ form in the opening weeks of the season?

Fullback: Jake Connor (Hull FC)
Wingers: Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons) and Ryan Hall (Hull Kingston Rovers)
Centres: Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants) and Jack Welsby (St Helens)
Halfbacks: Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers) and Gareth Widdop (Warrington Wolves)
Hooker: Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors)
Prop forwards: Lee Mossop (Salford Red Devils), Matty Lees (St Helens)
Backrowers: Oliver Holmes (Castleford Tigers), Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons)
Loose forward: Joe Westerman (Wakefield Trinity)
Substitutes: Olly Partington (Wigan Warriors), Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Brad Dwyer (Leeds Rhinos)

I think that team would give anybody a good game.

Personal memories of Prince Philip

In 1983 I was fortunate enough to graduate from the University of Salford with a Masters degree.

At the time, the Chancellor of the University was the Duke of Edinburgh, and of course one of the duties that the role entails is to present successful graduates with their certificates at a graduation ceremony.

So I was delighted to be able to shake the Duke’s hand and exchange a few words of conversation with him as I walked across the stage.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to talk to him about Rugby League, but if I had been able to I’m sure he would have been happy to discuss our sport.

Prince Philip, as our article on page 3 indicates, has attended a significant number of Rugby League events and I believe he had a genuine interest in the game.

I recall a few years ago someone who had attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace telling me that he had spoken to the Duke who, when he learned that my acquaintance was involved in Rugby League, remarked on how much he had enjoyed watching a Northern Rail Cup game that had recently been broadcast.

You can’t be much keener than that.

Lewis turns 90

The great Lewis Jones celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday.

And I’m glad to say that Lewis, who is now the oldest surviving British Rugby League Lion, is fit and well and is still playing golf regularly.

My best wishes to Lewis, who is a member of the Hall of Fame and will forever be a Leeds and Wales Rugby League icon.

The remarkable thing about Lewis is that he hardly seems to age at all.

He is one of those people who, when they were young, looked older than he was because he lost his hair at a young age, but as he grew older he gradually began to look far younger than his years.

I’m told that he can still hit a good round of golf at his favourite course, Horsforth in Leeds.

I hope Lewis, who is pictured here with his daughter Karen and Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington, will have many more birthdays to celebrate.

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