England coach Shaun Wane talks up Leeds Rhinos duo Tom Holroyd and Ash Handley ahead of France Test
Holroyd has been promoted from the England Knights set-up, while Handley is poised to earn his first Test cap two years on from a brief appearance off the bench against the Combined Nations All Stars.
The 22-year-old Holroyd has enjoyed a successful return after missing the entire 2022 Super League season through injury and suspension, featuring in all 10 games for the Rhinos so far.
Holroyd's consistent form earned him a place in Wane's original 40-man squad and he is set to benefit from a raft of withdrawals – with club team-mate Mikolaj Oledzki among the players resting injuries – to make his England debut at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Wane is "genuinely excited" to see a host of youngsters in action for the national team for the first time, including Holroyd.
"He's really impressed me in training," Wane told The Yorkshire Post. "We've had some great sessions.
"He's a good kid. The way he's managed his pre-season – credit to Leeds – he's done really, really well.
"He's a good size, has got good leg speed and runs hard. He plays tough.
"There's a bit of detail in his D (defence) he needs to work on but the way he carries the ball is superb. His passing has got better as well."
Handley has had to be patient in his pursuit of a first international cap but Wane is expected to pick the Rhinos man and Warrington Wolves winger Matty Ashton this weekend.
The 27-year-old was called up as a late replacement for Great Britain's ill-fated 2019 tour, only for Wayne Bennett to prefer half-back Blake Austin on the wing against Papua New Guinea.
Handley came off the bench in Wane's first game in charge against the All Stars in June 2021 but saw his night cut short by a head injury and has not featured since.
After making more metres than any other player in Super League last year, the winger has enjoyed a strong start to the 2023 season, scoring four tries in seven games.
"He's very professional and talks like a leader," said Wane on Handley, who has captained Leeds.
"It seems to me like he's got bigger and he looks very athletic. I'm looking forward to seeing him play on Saturday.
"He's a good lad, Ash, and is a very popular member of the squad. He'll be excited and quite rightly because he's earned it, no doubt about that."