The Rugby League world is still reeling from the shocking news that England captain Kevin Sinfield has announced his retirement from the international game – leaving Steve McNamara in search of a new captain for this year’s Four Nations.
Sinfield was widely expected to lead England into battle for the tournament, with no suggestion that his international career was about to come to an end. But, after the decision was confirmed yesterday, it means England must now find a new leader.
But who exactly is the right man to lead the English into the Four Nations? TotalRL.com runs the rule over who we think are the five most likely candidates to get the nod. Agree? Disagree? Comment below or join the debate on social media.
Given how he is already a captain at club level – and his position in the England team has been made stronger via Sinfield’s retirement – could Sean O’Loughlin be the overwhelming favourite to get the nod from Steve McNamara? He is a natural leader, and is a real talisman for whomever he takes the field for, be it Wigan or England. He’d be a popular choice amongst many, that is for certain.
Another man who is a captain at club level is Warrington’s Ben Westwood – and he surely has to be considered as a front runner for the vacant job. Westwood became co-captain of the Wolves at the start of this season, and with his experience at international level fairly extensive, there is every possibility it could be he who is the next to wear the prestigious armband.
He has been away from the England setup for a number of years now – but after such a dazzling 2014, it would be incredible to consider an England squad without Michael Shenton this season. And given how he’s done such an impressive job in captaining Castleford (to a Challenge Cup final, no less) – could it be Shenton who gets the armband?
If you’re looking for a leader who will strike fear into Australian and New Zealand defences, there can’t be many stronger contenders than James Graham, surely? He’s once again impressed with the Canterbury in the NRL this season, and is cementing a reputation as one of the top prop forwards in the world. If McNamara wants a true warrior to lead England – Graham is the man.
If McNamara wants to go down the NRL route for his new captain, perhaps Sam Tomkins could also be a fantastic choice for the armband? He has tremendous experience at international level, and remains England’s most potent threat in attack. After a testing first season in the NRL, the England captaincy could be the logical next step in the career of Sam Tomkins.