Josh Jones’s gamble on postponing his honeymoon has paid off with his selection for the Great Britain tour.
The Salford second rower, who is joining Hull for 2020, married his long-term partner Olivia on Sunday, 24 hours after his team’s defeat by St Helens in the Super League Grand Final.
The couple had already decided to put off their honeymoon in case Jones was named in the 24-man squad for the Tests against Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and he duly got the call yesterday morning from Great Britain team manager Jamie Peacock.
Jones, who tied the knot in Clitheroe, will link up with the rest of the squad in Manchester on Tuesday, ready for their departure 24 hours later.
“The wedding was supposed to be last weekend but I thought we were going to get to the Grand Final so we put it back,” said Jones. “The honeymoon has gone, though – Olivia wasn’t very happy but she understands.
“Maybe she can join me over there and we can have it in beautiful Australia.”
Jones’s selection, following a magnificent season with the Red Devils, helps make up for the 23-6 Grand Final defeat by his old club St Helens.
“The last shirt I had as a youngster before I signed for Saints was a GB one with Gillette across the front,” he said.
“If I get to wear that shirt professionally it would be an outstanding achievemen.”
The full 24-man squad will be announced later today, with Sean O’Loughlin among the latest withdrawals after missing much of the 2019 season with a pectoral injury.
The Rugby Football League said the decision was taken mutually following talks between the Wigan loose forward and coach Wayne Bennett.
Bennett said: “It was important that I spoke to him and we agreed on an outcome and hopefully it will help him come back fresh next season.”
The decision means O’Loughlin, who turns 37 in November, is likely to have played his last international and, with Sam Burgess having already pulled out with a shoulder injury, it leaves James Graham as the most likely captain.
O’Loughlin had targeted a return to Great Britain colours on the first Lions tour since 2006 as the perfect way to round off his international career, having earned 11 caps in the red and blue V from 2004 to 2007 before winning an additional 25 caps for England.
He has not yet signed a contract with Wigan for 2020, although he has stated his eagerness to continue.
The RFL also confirmed the withdrawal of St Helens winger Tom Makinson, who dislocated his right shoulder in Saturday’s Grand Final.
That could open the door for Leeds winger Ash Handley, who is one of four players on standby in the England squad who flew to Sydney on Saturday for the World Cup Nines.
Britain also have a doubt over veteran hooker James Roby, who has been dogged for much of the season by a groin injury and failed to finish Saturday’s final.