Harry Newman will return to Leeds Rhinos a ‘different player’ – says England coach Wane
Newman featured in England’s first and second Test wins over Tonga and is set to make his third international appearance when the series wraps up at Rhinos’ AMT Headingley on Saturday.
He has yet to score a try for his country, but provided the final pass for winger Matty Ashton’s opener in last Saturday’s 14-4 victory at Huddersfield and has impressed Wane with his performances and mature approach.
The coach admitted before the series he had concerns over Newman’s attitude, but – speaking at a Headingley press conference on Tuesday to preview this weekend’s game – Wane insisted he has been hugely impressed with the way the 23-year-old has knuckled down.
“He has been brilliant,” Wane said of Newman, who is the only Leeds player in the England Test squad.
“He is so enjoyable to coach. He'll be in for a tough time when we go through his video, but he did a lot of good things [last weekend] and I rate him very highly.
“The way he has changed and behaved the way I wanted him to behave has been outstanding.
“Credit to the Rhinos, but they are getting a player back who will be a different player; he'll be a lot more accomplished, a lot more steady and knows what his job is.
“All my staff have done a great job with him.”
Newman has been on the fringe of the England squad since 2020, but a broken leg and serious hamstring issues delayed his debut.
Wane feels with that behind him, the Huddersfield-born three-quarter is at the start of a long international career.
“I hope so,” he said. “He listens to me and the other staff, he's a great character to have around the training ground and around the hotel and he has played well.”
But he stressed: “There's massive improvements in him yet, which he'll know about [after the video review].
“We'll have a good chat and you'll see an even better player on Saturday.”
Newman’s inclusion could help swell the Headingley gate for a double-header which begins with England’s women taking on Wales.
Seated areas have sold out and the RFL are hoping for a near full house after disappointing gates of 12,898 and 11,210 for the first two Tests.
The turnout at St Helens and Huddersfield raised questions over English fans’ appetite for international rugby, but Wane is confident those concerns will be put to rest this weekend.
He reflected: “The crowd at Huddersfield wasn't great, but it was bad weather. In the World Cup last year it was fantastic the way the fans got behind us.
“If we get a good result on Saturday the English crowd will get behind us and hopefully it'll be different when we play Samoa next year.
“We have to win on Saturday, it means a lot to us and I know my players are obsessed with winning this game.”
England have already secured the series, but Wane feels it will be “fantastic for our game” if they can complete a 3-0 whitewash.
He stressed: “Tonga are fifth in the world rankings and they've got a lot of great athletes who play in the NRL, but the way my lads have stood up to their physicality when we're dwarfed in size and weight, we've shown a lot of English spirit and that's what I'm most proud of.
“I imagine they're motivated in the Tonga camp too so it'll be a physical game.”
Warrington Wolves full-back or winger Josh Thewlis and Halifax-born forward Morgan Smithies, who will leave Wigan to join NRL giants Canberra Raiders next season, have been called into the England squad for Saturday’s finale.
Loose-forward Victor Radley is in doubt with a groin injury.