RFL confirms upgraded Performance Pathways

THE Rugby Football League, which has revamped its international player pathway process, has announced squads at Under 18s and Under 16s, and in the female game ahead of this year’s Women’s World Cup.

The new National Performance programme has been launched by the England Rugby League’s Performance Department, which believes there is a need to “upgrade and improve the current international programme below the Elite Squad level”.

A Red Hall spokesman said: “The new pathway will have more of a focus on talent identification, player skill development, physical competences and the creation of a performance coaching environment.

“A National Performance Training Squad Programme will also be established for the Under 18 and Under 16 elite player groups, replacing the current England Youth and Academy programmes.

“National Performance Training Squads for Under 18s, Under 16s and Women will operate through national training centres, with up to 40 players selected in each group throughout the annual programme, from the community game and Academy structures.”

Lee Briers, the former Wales and Warrington Wolves halfback, replaces Andy Kelly as Head Coach of England Academy, while continuing as assistant coach at the Wolves.

The Under 18s international programme will commence annually following completion of the Super League Academy campaign in October.

The Under 16s programme will take place, this year, during Easter, in line with recent practice. It will, however, be scheduled for July from 2018, when the Super League Scholarship programme has closed.

England Women, meanwhile, are contesting this year’s World Cup in Australia.

The various squads are:

ENGLAND WOMEN: Amy Hardcastle, Charlotte Booth, Claire Garner, Danika Priim, Lois Forsell (all Bradford Bulls), Georgia Sutherland (Leigh Miners Rangers), Andrea Dobson, Emma Slowe, Kayleigh Bullman, Sarah Dunn (Featherstone Rovers), Dani Bound, Emily Rudge, Faye Gaskin, Jenny Welsby, Jodie Cunningham, Tara Stanley (Thatto Heath).

UNDER 18S: Alex Tankard, Will Dagger (Warrington Wolves), Bobby Downs, Will Oakes, Jack Brown (City of Hull Academy), Brad Pinder, Jordan Olmez, Kevin Brown (St Helens), Caine Barnes, Harry Smith, James Worthington, Joe Shorrocks, Samual Kibula (Wigan Warriors), Callum McLelland, Calum Turner (Castleford Tigers), Cameron Scott, Joe Brown (Bradford Bulls), Cameron Smith, Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos), Jake Wardle, Jon Luke Kirby (Huddersfield Giants), Danny Walker, Liam Walsh, Owen Farnworth (Widnes Vikings).

UNDER 16S: Amir Bourouh, Morgan Smithies, Oliver Waite (all Wigan Warriors and Siddal), Dominic Young (Huddersfield Giants, Dewsbury Moor), Henry Collins (Warrington Wolves, South Trafford), Jack Welsby, Matthew Foster (both St Helens and Blackbrook Royals), Jack Wright (Warrington Wolves, Rylands), Joshua Simm (St Helens, Thatto Heath Crusaders), Lewis Peachey (Castleford Tigers, Nottingham Outlaws), Max Roberts, Ryan Forshaw (both Wigan Warriors and Blackbrook Royals), Riley Dean (Warrington Wolves, Siddal), Ritchie Westwood (Castleford Tigers, Lock Lane), Thomas Holroyd (Leeds Rhinos, Siddal).