THE England Youth Rugby League team have stepped up preparations for a two-Test Easter series against their French counterparts by completing a three-day training camp with troops at RAF Catterick.
England Youth – which contains four Saints stars of the future: Aaron Smith, Jake Campbell, Lewis Fairhurst and Liam Cooper – will play France on March 29 and April 2 at Provident Stadium, Bradford and Wakefield’s Rapid Solicitors Stadium respectively, with an additional game against Wales Youth scheduled for April 5 and ahead of the challenge coach Dave Elliott was keen to put his charges through their paces.
“We took the players to Catterick to take them out of their comfort zone as part of our preparations for France at Easter,” said Elliott. “The camp was tough, both physically and mentally, but we’re confident the experience will prove beneficial come matchday.
“Alongside the physical demands, the camp tested the group’s team-work, mental strength, decision-making skills and leadership qualities – all of which will be put to the test against France.
“We know that France are always a physical side at this level and playing against them for the first time is a step-up from what the players have experienced before and we want to prepare them as best as we can for that.
“The squad we have selected is very strong and that’s a reflection of the great work that is being done at scholarship level at all the clubs.
“We have some very talented players in this group, but the lads will need to work well as a team and make sure they are in the correct mental state if we’re going to win the series.
“The RAF camp was the first time the whole group have come together as one and that experience, of taking on new challenges with new people, has really tested the whole group but the cohesion we saw at the end of the three days bodes well for the challenge ahead.”
Aaron Smith, Jake Campbell, Lewis Fairhurst and Liam Cooper are named in the squad.
England Youth will play France at Provident Stadium, Bradford, on Friday March 29 with Test 2 being played at Wakefield’s Rapid Solicitor Stadium on Tuesday April 2.