The team that will face France in Perpignan, in a unique test organized after the postponement of the world tournament for a year, will miss a number of prominent figures.
English coach Shaun Wane. Photo: Allan McKenzie / SWpix.com Niall Evalds of the Tigers of Castleford. Photo: Allan McKenzie / SWpix.com
Captain Sam Tomkins, for example, is injured, as is George Williams, while all of the NRL stars, including South Sydney’s Tom Burgess and the Canberra Raiders duo of Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson, aren’t either. available.
It might come as no surprise that there are eight new caps in Wane’s 17, but he’s confident in all of them.
In addition, the head coach believes they have the capacity to make a place for themselves if they grab the next 80 minutes.
One of the rookies is Niall Evalds of the Castleford Tigers, replacing Tomkins as full-back.
No matter how well the 28-year-old plays, one would think he would be unlikely to oust new Steve Prescott Man of Steel and World Cup captain in 2022.
Nonetheless, Wane maintains he is open-minded in all positions and has already shown how he rewards performance.
So what does Evalds need to do to take a firm grip on the No.1 jersey they’ve already beaten talents like Zak Hardaker and Jake Connor against?
“Playing his best game,” Wane said.
“He can play. there is no doubt. I watched it for years.
“He’s fast, he’s got good skills and what I want to see from him is no mistakes.
“I want him to show up when he needs it, I want him to do his one-on-one, the fundamentals to be a full-back.
“It has to be his best game. He is aware of it. He is capable of it. I’m excited.
“I’m not all about Sam (Tomkins). I am a huge fan of Sam Tomkins.
“(But) Sam understands 100% that if Niall kills him in this game and next year he will play the World Cup. “
One player who narrowly missed the selection is Leeds Rhinos uncapped cross Harry Newman.
He recovered from a serious broken leg last year to regain excellent form for the Headingley club in recent months, but Wane preferred Wakefield center Trinity Reece Lyne to the talented 21-year-old.
“In a game where I wanted him to stand up – the All Stars game – Reece Lyne was our best player,” explained the Wiganer, referring to the loss to the United Nations in June, the lone exit of the coach since taking over from Wayne Bennett. in February of last year.
“So he deserved the right to play in there.
“Harry played well for Leeds but Reece won the right.
“I’m going to stick with it and I can look the players in the eye and still speak the truth so that it never backfires on me.
“But then I want to see good form with his club form and it’s the same with Jordan (Abdull).
“We’re going to go through this game and then we’ll have a good chat with where I expect them to be next year.
“But I want three, four, five players for each position.
“I want it to be tough picking a team next year and the way they’ve trained and the desire they’ve shown this week, they’ve been really, really good.
“And I wouldn’t say that unless I really mean it.” “
Obviously, there are other players on the outskirts of Wane’s selection as well.
Warrington Wolves hooker Danny Walker and St Helens mainstay Matty Lees, who both impressed in England Knights’ win over Jamaica last Friday, are the other two who missed the 20-man squad’s cup. .
However, Wane was impressed with their contributions to the camp.
“It was (the selection) an award for Danny and Matty,” he said.
“They played really well this year, not only in the Knights game, but also for their clubs.
“I see them playing a huge role in the World Cup next year.
“The way they acquitted themselves, I know I made the right choice.
“There is no doubt that it will be difficult against France.
“The Catalan Dragons players dominate the French team and their fans are fanatical.
“It would be nice to go longer, but that’s how it is.
“We are all looking forward to it.
“He’s a French referee and there are a few things against us, but I want to see how we are going to handle this adversity because things will not all go the way we want in the World Cup. “