THE England game against New Zealand in Denver is getting closer and, so, Wayne Bennett will soon be naming his squad.
I’m not sure if there will be any surprise picks but the one player that I’ve really noticed in Super League is the St Helens prop Luke Thompson.
He’s aggressive, he runs hard, he tackles hard and I like the way he plays. It’s like he’s made the decision that he is just going to do all those things and be a handful on the field.
He doesn’t need something to happen in a game for him to start playing like that. He’s obviously set out with that mindset.
That’s something some other players could take notice of. Sometimes people start doing it because they’ve copped a knock or there’s been an incident that has just sparked you up.
But he’s impressed me with how he’s gone about his business. He probably plays a little bit differently to others. Week to week he just goes out and plays in that same style and he’s been really consistent with that.
If someone was to come out of left field a bit for next month’s Test, Luke Thompson is certainly a person I’d like to see have a go in an England shirt.Gareth Ellis
Admittedly, we’re not short of props. That’s been the case as long as I can remember and our forwards have always been able to match it on the international stage.
But if someone was to come out of left field a bit for next month’s Test, Luke Thompson is certainly a person I’d like to see have a go in an England shirt.
I don’t think there will be many changes, though. Probably just because Bennett will be going off the environment he has created with the players he probably trusts, lads that have worked hard to get themselves in that position.
Still, you’d hope that if there was someone who really stood out that they would get picked as that is what England is – it’s about picking the best players in the best positions.
Mark Percival is probably another who will feel he should be in there.
Even though he’s been in a lot of their squads over the last couple of years he’s probably been on the fringes a little bit when it comes to actually playing. I think he deserves a selection as an out and out centre.
Tommy Makinson has been there or thereabouts for a few years now. He’s had a couple of injuries that have probably stuttered his development but he is going well now and is arguably the form winger at the minute.
The half-back roles will be up for grabs after Kev Brown’s international retirement and Luke Gale’s injury.
I can only think he (Brown) was under the same mindset as I found myself when I chose to stand down from England; there comes a point when you suffer a few injuries and you feel you have to make the change.
When playing for your club there’s not much you can do to change things.
I suppose making the decision to have a rest and not play for your country – as difficult and as hard as it is – is probably the best one going forward for his career over the next few years.
There is a position there for someone to take although I’d imagine Bennett will go with Gareth Widdop back at six – he has been on fire for St George-Illawarra who are going great in the NRL – and Wigan’s George Williams at 7.