St Helens stars rested as Shaun Wane names England squad for France World Cup clash
The pair were left out of Shaun Wane’s team for the opening game, a 60-6 rout of Samoa in Newcastle last Saturday, but will get their chance at the University of Bolton Stadium as the coach makes full use of his squad.
Wigan Warriors second rower Kai Pearce-Paul, who was 18th man at St James’ Park, and St Helens forward Joe Batchelor will also make their Test debuts, while John Bateman returns after serving a three-match ban.
Hull KR winger Ryan Hall also gets a chance to add to his record tally of 34 tries for his country and Leeds prop Mikolaj Oledzki will win his second cap.
Goalkicking winger Tom Makinson and forwards Mike McMeeken, Mike Cooper, Morgan Knowles and Matty Lees are the players to make way as Wane fulfils his pledges to give everyone a game by the second week of the tournament.
Wane said at Tuesday’s press conference that he had yet to decide whether to rest his captain, Sam Tomkins, who is likely to be one of the two players to drop out of the squad, with Jack Welsby moving to full-back and George Williams taking over the captaincy.
Victory over France, who opened their campaign with a 34-12 win over Greece in Doncaster on Monday, would effectively secure a place in the knockout stages for England, with the final group game against the Greeks to come.
With quarter-final places up for grabs, Oledzki is among those determined to make the most of their opportunity to impress Wane.
“The lads played really well last week so any chance that I get now I need to make sure that I do everything I can to show Shaun Wane what I am capable of,” said the Gdansk-born Oledzki, who made his Test debut in last October’s 30-10 win over France in Perpignan.
“The squad is full of world-class players and unfortunately there is only 17 that can go on the field each week but every time you get an opportunity, you have to grab it with both hands.
“To get a chance to run out this weekend would be amazing. Putting that England jersey on again is a massive honour.”
Oledzki ended the regular season with a shoulder injury as Leeds reached the Grand Final but he says he has benefited from a couple of weeks off.
“I had a few weeks to rest and recover and get a few things that I’ve been struggling with this year right,” he said. “I’m ready to go, feeling fit and feeling great.”
England squad: S Tomkins (Catalans), K Watkins (Salford), H Farnworth (Brisbane), R Hall (Hull KR), J Welsby (St Helens), G Williams (Warrington), T Burgess (South Sydney), M McIlorum (Catalans), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), E Whitehead (Canberra), J Bateman (Wigan), V Radley (Sydney Roosters), D Young (Newcastle), C Hill (Huddersfield), A Ackers, M Sneyd (both Salford), J Batchelor (St Helens), M Oledzki (Leeds), K Pearce-Paul (Wigan).