The St Helens centre has only just returned from injury, but he’s already making a huge impact for Keiron Cunningham’s side. The Saints boss promised on a number of occasions that when he got his strike players back, they would be a much better team. Percival and Jonny Lomax’s introduction back into matters have helped no end, and the centre in particular looks every inch a star of the future: and potentially the present.
England are blessed with back-rowers in the current climate – but is anyone performing better than Ben Currie in that role at the moment? You’d argue he and Wigan’s John Bateman are England’s two standout candidates in that particular part of the field at present, with Currie belying his tender age and becoming one of Warrington’s best players in 2016. If Wayne Bennett is watching, he’ll definitely be impressed.
Fullback is not exactly the most open position on England’s pool of players – but the form of Jamie Shaul will surely give him half a chance of being included in Bennett’s squad if he carries on like this. The electrifying fullback has an abundance of talent and is fast becoming one of his hometown club’s star players.
Much like the back-row, England are also blessed with some fine wingers. But some of the ones traditionally at the front of the queue are injured, and others are out of form. With Bennett likely to start with a clean slate, that may open the door for others, including Catalans’ Jodie Broughton. He’s enjoying the best season of his career to date and is relishing a fresh challenge in Perpignan.
Gale came desperately close to playing last year under Steve McNamara, and if Bennett’s clean slate approach is going to be the case, the Castleford scrum-half will certainly be in contention. He’s not been perhaps as good as his blistering 2015 form so far this year, but he’s still got one of the deadliest kicking games in Super League, if not the world. England’s wingers would certainly enjoy the prospect of Gale putting the ball on a sixpence for them, that is for sure.
Much like Broughton’s form at Catalans, the emergence of Tom Johnstone as a potentially world-class winger may well give him a chance in the Four Nations later this year. He’s young and still has plenty of improvement left in him, but the Wakefield flier is already making a name for himself as a star of Super League.
Honourable mentions (and there are enough!) include Josh Griffin (Salford), Scott Taylor (Hull), Dom Manfredi (Wigan). Anyone we’ve missed? Let us know!