Talking Rugby League with League Express editor Martyn Sadler
This week England coach Shaun Wane will announce the names of the England players who will be in the box seat to represent their country at this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
The squad for the Tuesday 13 April training session at Leeds Beckett University will be announced at 8.30am tomorrow (Tuesday).
By now I’m sure that Shaun will have decided on the players who will be included in his squad. There’s no limit on the numbers he could select, but it’s worth bearing in mind which players made the cut last time he announced a squad, which was on 4 November last year.
To jog our memories, the squad was:
Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Toby King (all Warrington Wolves), Niall Evalds, Dan Sarginson, Kallum Watkins (all then Salford), Liam Farrell, Oliver Gildart, Zak Hardaker, Dom Manfredi, John Bateman (all Wigan Warriors), Luke Gale, Harry Newman, Ash Handley (all Leeds Rhinos), Josh Griffin (Hull FC), Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival, James Roby, Alex Walmsley, Morgan Knowles (all St Helens), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons).
NRL players: Luke Thompson (Canterbury), Herbie Farnworth (Brisbane), George Williams, Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson, Ryan Sutton (Canberra), Tom Burgess (South Sydney)
There were seven players – Josh Charnley, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Josh Jones, Reece Lyne, Scott Taylor and Liam Watts – who had been included in his squad announced in March last year, but who were left out of the squad announced in November, while there were two players – Ash Handley of Leeds and Toby King of Warrington – who had not been included in March, but were added to the squad in November.
Of course the interesting thing will be to see how many players Shaun adds to the squad, and whether any players who were in the squad in November will now be excluded.
Gareth Widdop was a disappointment when he joined Warrington last year, but I think there were good reasons for that connected with his personal life. But his recent performance, especially last Thursday against Leigh, should surely see him being called up again.
Then there is Jake Trueman of Castleford, who has been outstanding so far, as has his team-mate Olly Holmes.
Wigan already have a strong contingent of players in the squad, but perhaps now is the time to bring Oliver Partington and Jake Bibby in.
Partington looks to me like the sort of young, aggressive forward we need for a World Cup tournament, while Bibby is probably one of the most under-estimated players in the game, but his value is shown by looking at the scoring table on page 7. There is no better player in Super League for supporting his team-mates when an opportunity arises. And his temperament for big games is demonstrated by the fact that he has scored tries in the last two Grand Finals. And his team-mate Sam Powell is another player who is regularly underrated, but whose stats are quite incredible.
Jake Wardle of Huddersfield Giants is a young centre who would benefit greatly from mixing with the elite. His cover tackle on Tom Davies on Saturday was quite remarkable.
And then there is Davies himself, who is one of the hottest and most enthusiastic wingers in the game. He surely deserves a chance.
And of course the big one to watch out for is Jake Connor, who seems to be having a new lease of life at fullback for Hull FC. Jake’s career has not been an even progression, but his talent is undeniable and I can’t imagine that he could be left out, given his current form.
I also think Jack Welsby would be a great addition to the squad. If he’s good enough, he’s old enough, and he clearly is good enough.
So let’s see how many of these players Shaun decides to go with.
All of them, I hope.
Mose’s amazing legacy
When Mose Masoe finally heads back to Australia, which he will do one of these days, he will leave a lasting legacy in England.
It won’t just be that he was a fine player who suffered a serious, life-changing injury.
It’s that he influenced everyone around him with his wonderful spirit, that was revealed in his smile and his great sense of humour.
It sometimes seems an exaggeration to say that someone doesn’t have an enemy in the world, but in Mose’s case that is undoubtedly true, and he has inspired people in both hemispheres to come together to help him.
Over £100,000 was raised over the weekend in the Mose Masoe Round of fixtures, while in Australia The Men of League Foundation has launched a fund raising drive and by Sunday morning had raised around $50,000, while no doubt that figure will rise substantially.
It will also rise from players auctioning items of equipment on Ebay that they wore at the weekend, with several players putting Mose’s name on the back of their shirts.
Mose was a great guest on Sky last Thursday night, and all his positive qualities were on display. He’s a truly remarkable man.
A sad loss
Just a quick word about one of the most enthusiastic Rugby League people involved in the game.
Jimmy Clements, who was Whitehaven through and through, has died suddenly.
Jimmy has been the club’s kitman for what seems like a lifetime, and he seemed to be a permanent fixture at the Recreation Ground.
As Haven Chairman Tommy Todd said, in an email message to me.
“I have know Jimmy for over forty years and he has been at the club all that time doing one job or another, anything that was asked of him and his widow Betty. Like every other Chairman one can only say ‘I wish I had twenty like them’. He will be sorely missed at Whitehaven, small clubs need men like Jimmy. R.I.P. old pal.”
I would like to echo that view and send my condolences to Jimmy’s family from everyone at League Express.
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