Huddersfield's Jermaine McGillvary faces fierce battle to clinch spot against France

THE battle for an England wing spot is set to heat up after Wigan Warriors' Dom Manfredi '“ thought to be set for his debut under new coach Wayne Bennett '“ was ruled out for the season.
IN THE PICTURE: Huddersfield Giants' Jermaine McGillvary.
 Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeIN THE PICTURE: Huddersfield Giants' Jermaine McGillvary.
 Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
IN THE PICTURE: Huddersfield Giants' Jermaine McGillvary. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a fine campaign, scoring 15 tries for the title challengers and alerting the incoming international chief with both his pace and finishing prowess.

However, Manfredi injured his knee following a heavy challenge from Rangi Chase in the early exchanges of Friday’s 36-22 Super 8s loss at Castleford Tigers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The player has since had it confirmed that he has ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament and will now not play again until 2017.

Another England hopeful – Tommy Makinson – also suffered the same injury on Easter Monday and remains sidelined.

Manfredi’s exclusion will increase the chances of Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary securing a spot in Bennett’s squad for the friendly with France in Avignon on October 22, ahead of the Four Nations that start a week later.

Granted, McGillvary is striving to return himself after missing the last three games with a quad problem and is playing for a struggling side in the Qualifiers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, with Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall almost certainly taking one wing slot, McGillvary is incumbent of the other having made an impressive debut in the series-clinching win over New Zealand last November.

Furthermore, McGillvary has scored 20 tries this season to strengthen his claims but there are other rivals who will all see Manfredi’s misfortune as a chance to push their own bid.

Leeds winger Tom Briscoe, for instance, is finding form at the right time having missed much of the season with injury.

He has played the last four matches – the same number he had featured in all year previously – and has international experience, scoring 11 tries in 15 games, the last of which was at the 2013 World Cup.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There is, of course, Manfredi’s Wigan team-mate Josh Charnley, who also represented England in that tournament, but he switches codes with Sale Sharks at the end of the season and is unlikely to be considered.

Uncapped Jodie Broughton, the prolific Yorkshireman who has contributed 19 tries for Catalans Dragons since leaving Huddersfield last winter, may come into the reckoning, although he, like Charnley, was not included in Bennett’s 31-man Leeds get-together held in June.

Given his apparent predeliction for NRL players, the Australian may simply opt for Joe Burgess, who played the opening two Tests against New Zealand last year before being dropped by then coach Steve McNamara for McGillvary.

Burgess subsequently left Wigan for Sydney Roosters on a three-year deal but struggled and in June, barely six months into that contract, announced he would re-join Wigan for 2017.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 21-year-old has since been playing for strugglers South Sydney on a short-term deal.

One England player who has enjoyed a successful first season in Australia is Elliott Whitehead.

The former Bradford Bulls second-row, who left Catalans for Canberra Raiders after helping his country beat the Kiwis last autumn, has played every game for the NRL club and now extended until the end of 2018.

Featherstone Rovers’ John Davies could be banned for up to three games after being charged with Grade C abusive language to a match offcial during Sunday’s loss at Huddersfield Giants.