In last week’s League Express, controversial columnist Garry Schofield picked his current England team ahead of the end of season Four Nations. There’re some big calls made by the former Great Britain captain, but do you agree with them? Let us know on social media.
Much of last autumn’s Test series between England and New Zealand bored the pants off me – particularly the second match in London – so it won’t go down well if we employ similar tactics this year.
I hope I’m wrong, but the days of Bennett coaching the flamboyant Broncos of the 1990s are long gone.
I still think he is by far the best man for the job, but I hope he will have us playing the right way. I hope to see a set of backs who all excel with the ball in hand.
So, who should Wayne select? Here is my team. You’ll notice there’s no room for Sean O’Loughlin because he’s been injured most of the season and when he has played he’s not played at loose forward.
1 Jamie Shaul
I’m picking this side on form so there’s no room for Sam Tomkins and Zak Hardaker. Quite simply, Shaul has been the best English fullback this season and has the attacking game to worry the Southern Hemisphere sides. We need much more than a safety-first option at the back, and Jamie has the ability to open up any defence.
2 Jermaine McGillvary
McGillvary made this jersey his own last autumn and in a poor Huddersfield team this year he has maintained his impressive form. He is an outstanding all-round player with everything in his locker that an international winger needs. He is good enough and young enough to remain in the side for quite a few years yet.
3 Ben Currie
Currie can cover back row and centre but still has the skill level to be playing in the backs at the highest level. People will push for Leroy Cudjoe, but he can’t live with Currie for brilliance, consistency or his all-round game. The start he made to this season was no fluke. He is a top player.
4 Mark Percival
Percival is a great winger’s centre and whoever plays outside him will enjoy himself. He’s got pace and, if opportunities come along for him, he’ll score tries. He’s got the pace for international level, unlike Jack Reed, and he’ll be a handful for whoever plays against him.
5 Dominic Manfredi
Manfredi has had an exceptional 12 months and the next step for him is to wear the England jersey. Not only will he not let anyone down, he will pose a big threat to the Australians, the Kiwis and the Scots. He is an exceptional winger with barely a weakness.
6 Gareth Widdop
St George may have struggled on the attack at times, but Widdop has still maintained his standards. He’s become the most important member of the England side and I would have no hesitation in handing him the captaincy. He needs to be the main man when it comes to creativity, organisation and leadership.
7 Jordan Lilley
This may seem left field, but his fearless approach will perfectly complement Widdop. Lilley has been superb for Leeds, especially against New Zealand last year, and they look much better with him in the side. Unlike a lot of English halves, he hasn’t yet had his talents coached out of him – so chuck him in there now!
8 James Graham
Graham has long been the cornerstone of a very good England pack and, despite now being 30, he looks as good as ever in a Canterbury jersey. Looking through other international squads, it’s hard to find too many better props than Graham.
9 Josh Hodgson
What an impact he has made on the NRL! To be leading the Dally M charts is sensational. He’s carved open NRL defences all season and I just hope he hasn’t peaked too soon, because if he plays like this in the Four Nations, England will be well capable of winning it.
10 Chris Hill
Hill is one of the most consistent props in Super League history, never looking out of place in an England team. The Aussies and Kiwis won’t relish seeing his name on the team sheet. He is a big reason why Warrington are doing so well in 2016.
11 Elliott Whitehead
Moving out of his comfort zone by going to France then Australia has massively improved him, in contrast to someone like Liam Farrell, who has gone a bit stale. Whitehead has the whole package for a second rower and I fancy him to get the better of his Aussie and Kiwi counterparts.
12 John Bateman
I spoke a couple of weeks ago about how much I rate Bateman, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him getting stuck into the Four Nations. One or two people might point out that he is slightly small, but he’d still be a big addition to what is already a tremendous pack.
13 Sam Burgess
I’m making an exception here in picking Burgess on reputation and not form – same for his brother listed among the subs. They have been world class at Souths, although something isn’t right this year. Sam made a huge error in going to union, because it disrupted his career just as he was hitting his peak.
14 Daryl Clark
Clark is now back to his best and has been ripping it up since round one. I’m excited about seeing him do the business on this stage, as he did in the 2014 Four Nations. Hodgson edges him out for the starting berth, but Clark would still be immense off the bench.
15 George Burgess
George has had a marvellous career until this season, but I’m still backing him to rediscover his best form. He is a remarkable prop, not just in getting his team to the opposition’s 20, but by playing a big part in so many tries.
16 Scott Taylor
Taylor is having a brilliant season at Hull. He is a big reason for the club sitting in the top four and this is the time for him to pull on an England jersey. Like many of the forwards, he won’t just hold his own, he’ll stamp his mark on England’s opponents and make a big difference.
17 Joe Greenwood
I’m a big fan of Greenwood’s and I feel that he’s moved ahead of a few back-rowers like Brett Ferres, Joel Tomkins and Liam Farrell. He’s a class act with a big future ahead of him, and he’s standing out in a stale-looking side. I’m not even sure Saints realise how good he is, but he always impresses me. He scores tries, makes metres and is a good defender.
You can read Garry’s column every in League Express. In the new edition of the paper, Garry previews every Magic Weekend game. Check it out by buying in stores or online at this link.