It’s been as you were for Steve McNamara and England so far this year, with the same 17 men playing in all three international fixtures so far in 2015.
Sam Tomkins’ injury means that there are six active members of the squad who have yet to see a minute of action this year, but could that be about to change for the deciding Test match at Wigan on Saturday?
McNamara names his 19-man squad for the final Test on Thursday afternoon, and as a prelude to that, we’re going to make a case for each of the six men who could come into the fray. Who would you include? Let us know on social media.
Ben Currie (Warrington)
Currie has enjoyed a phenomenal year with Warrington, arguably the best of his career to date. But he’s yet to taste senior international Rugby League as of yet, so how would he come into the mix for Saturday? Well, if McNamara is looking for more pace and energy around the edges, Currie would be a fine player to come into the reckoning. He offers genuine pace and a great offloading game, and could be a potential to come into the second row.
Ben Westwood (Warrington)
Currie’s Warrington teammate Ben Westwood is a genuine option for England on Saturday, and could offer them something they lacked in London last weekend. Although England’s bench was very impressive in the first Test at Hull, last week there was a lack of strike coming from the interchanges. Westwood provides genuine brute force up top, and could be a decent alternative for McNamara coming off the bench. Crucially, he also possesses big game experience – a potentially pivotal factor in a game like this.
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield)
Cudjoe’s inclusion caught a few people by surprise when McNamara’s squad was revealed – but he did impress towards the back end of the year with Huddersfield. He and Jermaine McGillvary formed an impressive pairing on Huddersfield’s flank, and with John Bateman an option to revert back to the more familiar position of the back row, it would certainly open the door for Cudjoe – who is very much a natural centre at heart.
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield)
If Cudjoe does come into the team on Saturday, then expect Jermaine McGillvary to follow. Reuniting their partnership at international level is a mouthwatering prospect, and with McGillvary’s strike rate in Super League this year, it would be amazing to imagine him not getting an opportunity at some point. But will McNamara relent and leave one of Joe Burgess or Ryan Hall out? It’s arguably his toughest decision to make, as neither have let England down thus far. However, the power and physicality of McGillvary could be too much to resist.
Matty Smith (Wigan)
Clearly, McNamara’s biggest dilemma is in the halves. Does he go with Gareth Widdop and George Williams again, or does he leave one – or even both – out to freshen up such a key area? If he’s looking for a calm, experienced head to come into the mix, Matty Smith is a firm contender. Smith didn’t look out of place during last year’s Four Nations, and although his 2015 form hasn’t been quite as good as last year, he still provides a reassuring influence at scrum-half. Plus, he has the kicking game England lacked in London last weekend.
Luke Gale (Castleford)
Quite simply, the biggest call from Rugby League fans ahead of this Saturday is to give Luke Gale a chance at Wigan. If form be the requirement for an international debut, then Gale is overdue his chance, you feel. His form in 2015 has been magnificent, and crucially – like Matty Smith – he has the kicking game which England lacked on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium. The question is, will McNamara hand him his international debut in the deciding Test of a series against the world’s best side?