Why Hull KR star Ryan Hall must get the nod from England coach - Dave Craven

ENGLAND kick-off their Euros campaign tomorrow so that gives me the perfect excuse – not that I need one – to pen my own England team.

Hull KR's Ryan Hall: Top form. Picture: SWPix
Hull KR's Ryan Hall: Top form. Picture: SWPix

Not discussing the merits of Jack Grealish, Mason Mount and Declan Rice, of course, (although Grealish and Phil Foden have to start, for what it’s worth) but who might make Shaun Wane’s rugby league side for the Combined Nations All Stars contest.

Wane finally gets to take charge of England in under a fortnight’s time. England finally get to play. It was 2018 the last time they were in action.

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Bereft of his international players operating in the NRL, such as Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson and Tom Burgess, there will be scope for Super League-based personnel to get a head-start when it comes to Wane’s thinking about the World Cup.

Mark Percival: Chance must come. Picture: Getty Images

This is my stab at who to pick and there’s not much rhyme or reason to it given in some positions I’m picking on form alone and in others I’m totally ignoring form. My team. My way.

Anyway, I’ll have to go with Sam Tomkins at full-back; he has been brilliant for Catalans this term just as Zak Hardaker, Jake Connor and Niall Evalds have been for their respective clubs.

But Tomkins just has that added edge to his game and with his vast experience – and the fact Wane loves him from their Wigan days – it is hard to imagine he will not make the June 25 team.

Wing is an interesting one; in his current squad, Wane has Tommy Makinson, Jermaine McGillvary, Tom Johhnstone, Ash Handley and Dom Manfredi to call upon while Catalans’ Tom Davies must now be in his thinking, too.

Paul McShane: Choice hooker. Picture: SWPix

The first winger in my England team, though, would be Ryan Hall. Yes, he has not been included in any of Wane’s squads since he took charge 16 months ago but the coach always said the door would be open for those in form.

In Hall’s case, going into the latest round, he is the top-flight top scorer with 11 tries in his opening nine games for Hull KR since returning from the NRL last autumn.

With 1,111m, just four players have made more metres than him this term in Super League and the former Leeds Rhinos favourite is in the top 10 in terms of carries, too.

But forget the stats; at 33, Hall is simply just playing great and doing everything you want from your winger, not least starting Rovers’ sets in such strong fashion with that hulking frame of his.

Mikolaj Oledzki: Pack power. Picture: Tony Johnson

Furthermore, he is England’s record try-scorer and has earned the right to continue his international career while Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson also gets the nod.

Inside, it would have been nice to see Josh Griffin get a shot but the Hull FC man suffered that cruel injury a week ago.

Having watched two full-backs – Tommy Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell – destroy Queensland as centres for New South Wales on Wednesday, there’s a temptation to throw in Hardaker and Connor at centre against the All Stars; get your most dynamic players in come what may.

That said, if fit, Mark Percival – perennially overlooked by Wayne Bennett – must surely be given a chance to make one of those slots his own now.

On the other side, I would put Hardaker in there; we don’t have enough world-class players to leave out players of his ilk.

At stand-off, Jonny Lomax is a certainty. Class operator. With George Williams’s career in a state of upheaval Down Under, alongside the St Helens man I’d like to see Luke Gale pull the strings.

It would be a glorious chance for the Leeds Rhinos scrum-half – who played in the 2017 World Cup final – to remind Wane of his obvious talents.

Up front, Alex Walmsley is another given but, with Burgess, Luke Thompson and Ryan Sutton stuck in Australia, I’d throw a bolter in alongside him: Leeds’s Polish-born enforcer Mikolaj Oledzki, at only 22, has developed rapidly over these last 12 months.

Even if Hodgson played in Super League, Paul McShane simply must be picked at hooker; the Steve Prescott Man of Steel has to be given chance to show what he can do at the highest level following his consistent brilliance for Castleford Tigers.

You might not even need Daryl Clark on the bench although I expect to be struck down by lightning at some point for ignoring the evergreen James Roby. It feels like sacrilege but points at how strong England’s No 9 options are.

Is Liam Farrell still just 30? He seems to have been around as long as the 35-year-old Roby.

Regardless, Farrell’s form for Wigan has been stellar and I would expect him to join club-mate John Bateman in Wane’s back-row and few could argue if Morgan Knowles earned his debut after switching from Wales.

As for the other England, in Gareth we trust...

England: Tomkins; Makinson, Hardaker, Percival, Hall; Lomax, Gale; Walmsley, McShane, Oledzki, Bateman, Farrell, Knowles.