For this week’s Six of the Best, we’ve been asking you on social media who the most likely first-time England nominees will be at the end of this season.
Even though we’re only two weeks into Super League XX, there are still a raft of talented youngsters who are making a real impression – and hoping to follow in the footsteps of stars like Dan Sarginson and Elliott Whitehead, and make their England debut against New Zealand in the autumn.
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors)
The leader of the Albert Goldthorpe Medal table after two weeks of the season, Bateman is earning rave reviews for his performances in a number of positions for the Warriors already this season. As well as claiming five out of a possible six points from League Express match reporters this year, Bateman grabbed the man of the match during the Warriors’ narrow defeat to Brisbane in the World Club Series – when he filled in at 13 for Sean O’Loughlin. Could that be where the former Bradford man ends up long-term for Wigan?
George Williams (Wigan Warriors)
Competition is fierce in the halves for England, but George Williams already looks at home with the No.6 shirt on his back for Wigan Warriors in 2015. Stepping into Blake Green’s shoes has proved to be little issue for the talented half, who seems to have the skills and talent required to make it at the top of the game. He will surely only get better as the season continues, and with a partnership with England international Matty Smith in his favour, could Williams be in line to make the cut for England later this year?
Alex Walmsley (St Helens)
Some considered former Batley man Alex Walmsley unlucky not to have made the cut for England last year after a brilliant season with St Helens, and if he continues on the same path in 2015, surely an England call-up is now inevitable? Walmsley has the size, power and talent to go a long way in the game, and his incredible ‘rags to riches’ story could be capped off with a first England appearance come the end of this season. He has learned plenty in a short space of time, and Walmsley seems destined for international honours at some point.
Tommy Makinson (St Helens)
There was quite an uproar when flying winger Tommy Makinson missed out on the cut for England last year, such was his form for the club on their way to Grand Final glory in 2014. His scintillating finishes and exceptional pace left many scratching their heads on how he missed out – but if he carries on in that vein of form this year, he can’t be ignored again, you would imagine. Makinson has signed a long-term contract with the club to cement his future in Super League – and he is sure to remain a threat to defences for many years to come.
Craig Huby (Huddersfield Giants)
Like several on this list, the form of Craig Huby in 2014 left plenty wondering how he had missed out on selection. However, Huby was competing with a lot of top props for selection for international honours last year, not least the Burgess brothers at South Sydney. With a move to Huddersfield now under his belt, Huby is being tipped to go one better this year – and his start for the Giants certainly has caught the eye.
Kevin Penny (Warrington Wolves)
The inclusion of Penny on this list certainly is a left-field choice – but his form is certainly starting to impress many Super League fans already this year. The winger headed into Super League XX off the back of a strong pre-season with Warrington Wolves, and he has replicated that form in the league already. He even slotted in at fullback during the World Club Series and earned rave reviews for his performances – will his versatility prove key in a shock England call-up, perhaps? If he maintains this form, it may be hard for him to be ignored.