TWO Saints have been named in the Exiles squad to face England in the International Origin Match at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday June 10 (8pm).
Tony Puletua and Iosia Soliola have all be selected as the top fan picks in their respective positions and will take their place in Brian McClennan’s 22-man Exiles squad, a team made up of the cream of overseas talent drawn from the Engage Super League.
New Zealander McClennan has included the top 13 fan picks and an additional five selections of his own choice and will announce a further a further four selections, one per week throughout May, to reveal his 22-man squad.
“The make-up of the squad looks very exciting,” said McClennan. “We have some terrific talent at our disposal with vast experience at the highest level.
“The fans have made some intelligent selections throughout the voting process over the past month. Their selections mirror the type of squad I am looking to build. Their fan picks will serve as the nucleus of my squad going into the game against England.
“A game of this nature will lift the profile of the sport throughout the northern hemisphere and will see the best players in the Engage Super League battling it out in what will be a breathtaking contest between two highly talented teams.”
Saints prop Tony Puletua is also looking forward to the match and is excited about the prospect of playing against some his club colleagues, who will be part of the England squad.
“There will be plenty of banter surrounding this game in the build up amongst the players,” said Puletua.
“I’m looking forward to the rivalry against some of my St Helens team-mates who will be playing for England. I will be winding them up and be telling them that they’ll be in for a real battle at Headingley.
“To have rep footy back on the agenda is different class for the players who have been used it throughout their careers in Australia. It is one of the sacrifices you have to make when you come over to England but with the creation of the international Origin we now have something to look forward to away from the week-to-week action of the Super League.
“The sport in England needs a match of this magnitude and it should be part of the Rugby League scene for many years to come.”
To mark the inaugural fixture between England and the Exiles, the RFL’s kit supplier ISC have designed a distinctive black, yellow, green and white strip for the Exiles. Fans can buy the shirt from May 20 by logging onto www.rugbyleagueonline.co.uk
Details of Exiles squad are below:
Danny Buderus (captain) (Leeds Rhinos & Australia), Thomas Leuluai (vice captain, Wigan Warriors & New Zealand), Louis Anderson (Warrington Wolves & New Zealand), George Carmont (Wigan Warriors & New Zealand), Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers & New Zealand), David Fa’alogo (Huddersfield Giants & New Zealand), David Faiumu (Huddersfield Giants & New Zealand), Craig Fitzgibbon (Hull FC & Australia), Brett Hodgson (Warrington Wolves & Australia), Matt King (Warrington Wolves & Australia), Kylie Leuluai (Leeds Rhinos & New Zealand), Steve Menzies (Catalan Dragons & Australia), Joel Monaghan (Warrington Wolves & Australia), Luke O’Donnell (Huddersfield Giants & Australia), Mark O’Meley (Hull FC & Australia), Tony Puletua (St Helens & New Zealand), Pat Richards (Wigan Warriors & Australia), Iosia Soliola (St Helens & New Zealand).
In a unique concept to British sport, the initial 34-strong squad was reduced to 22, in part by public selection.
More than 10,000 fans have registered and made their initial selections. This marked the first time in UK sporting history that the public chose a team, with fans having the chance to select 13 of the 22 squad members to face England. The remaining nine selections will be made by the Exiles coaching staff.
Pre-purchased tickets for the International Origin match start from £19 for adults and £12 for concessions and are available at www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or by contacting the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113. Tickets purchased on the day of the match start from £22 for adults and £15 for concessions.