Jack Ashworth, Matty Lees and Danny Richardson have all been named in the England Knights Performance Squad to prepare for this autumn’s historic international fixture against Jamaica at the Emerald Headingley Stadium.
The Saints trio are joined by Leeds centre Harry Newman and Huddersfield forward Oliver Wilson, who were both members of the England Academy team who beat the Australian Schoolboys last autumn.
Newman, 19, has established himself as a regular in the Rhinos team this season with eight tries in 14 appearances, while Wilson made his Betfred Super League debut for the Giants earlier this month after making the short move from Bradford Bulls, where he had come through the Academy.
Jordan Abdull, a 23-year-old stand-off from Hull who has played for both of the city’s Super League clubs is also included and he has relished the responsibility he has been given since joining the London Broncos this season.
Rob Butler is joined in the squad by Mike McMeeken, the 25-year-old former Broncos forward originally from Basingstoke who has won two senior England caps since moving north to Castleford, and is recalled to the KPS after injury.
Wigan forward Joe Greenwood and Hull KR’s Robbie Mulhern have also dropped down from the England Elite Performance Squad, while the Hull FC prop Josh Bowden is recalled.
Oliver Holmes, Adam O’Brien, Oliver Roberts, Dean Hadley and Harvey Livett are omitted from the first KPS of 2019 that was announced in March.
The revised 37-man squad includes 19 players who experienced last autumn’s two-match trip to Papua New Guinea. They will meet in Leeds in August and September before the Knights head coach Paul Anderson trims the squad to prepare for the fixture against Jamaica on Sunday October 20 (3pm).
The match will be played eight days after the domestic season concludes with the Betfred Super League Grand Final, and will provide senior international action on home soil in an autumn which is set to see the England Women and Wheelchair teams joining the reformed Great Britain men’s squad in travelling to the southern hemisphere.
“It’s important that we revise the Knights squad on the basis of 2019 form and it’s good that the guys now have the focus of the Jamaica game,” said head coach Paul Anderson, who has combined his role this year with a position as Warrington’s Academy Head Coach, and will again be assisted by Saints legend Paul Sculthorpe in his role as the RFL’s England Pathways Coach.
“All five new faces have earned their call-ups with their club performances in 2019 – Jordan Abdull and Rob Butler for London Broncos, Josh Bowden for Hull FC, Harry Newman for Leeds and Oliver Wilson for Bradford and Huddersfield.
“Harry and Oliver have moved quickly from the Academy squad who did so well last winter to the Knights set-up, and that’s exactly how we want our Pathways to work. There’s so much exciting young talent in the domestic game, and I’m really looking forward to working with this group for the rest of the 2019.”
On the fixture against Jamaica, Kevin Sinfield, the RFL’s Rugby Director who leads the England Performance Unit, said: “This is a fixture that works on so many levels, and I hope it will capture the imagination of Rugby League supporters and Jamaicans in Leeds, Yorkshire and well beyond.
“The Knights are an important part of the EPU as we build towards hosting the World Cup in 2021, and it was a priority to find them meaningful competition again this autumn after the unique experiences they gained in Papua New Guinea last year.
“The way the Jamaica team has developed over the last few years to reach the World Cup has already been a bit of a Rugby League fairytale, and it’s great that the Knights can help them with their preparations for RLWC2021.”
Jermaine Coleman, Jamaica’s head coach who grew up as a member of Leeds’s Jamaican community before joining London Skolars as a player and since 2015 as their head coach, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for us as team. The effort that has gone into the journey so far has been unbelievable. We have a fantastic group of people involved with the team both on and off the field. We see this as our first steps in our preparation to the World Cup. The England Knights will be an excellent team full of Super League quality from 1-17 so the step up for us is going to be a challenge. The one thing this group does better than anything is rise to challenges so we can’t wait for this game opportunity.”
A revised 27-man England Elite Performance Squad will be announced later today.
England Knights Performance Squad (all players listed with professional and community clubs):
Alex Foster (Castleford Tigers, Wetherby Bulldogs), Mike McMeeken (Castleford Tigers, Staines Titans), Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers, Wetherby Bulldogs), Matt Whitley (Catalans Dragons, Bold Miners), Matt English (Huddersfield Giants, Stanley Rangers), Kruise Leeming (Huddersfield Giants, Siddal), Darnell McIntosh (Huddersfield Giants, Dewsbury Celtic), Oliver Wilson (Huddersfield Giants, Greetland All Rounders), Chris Atkin (Hull KR, Liverpool John Moores University), Robbie Mulhern (Hull KR, Normanton Knights), Josh Bowden (Hull FC, Hull Wyke), Masimbaashe Matongo (Hull FC, West Hull), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos, Newsome Panthers), Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors), Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos, Lock Lane), Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors), Jack Walker (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders), Jordan Abdull (London Broncos, Skirlaugh), Rob Butler (London Broncos, Medway Dragons), Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils, Siddal), Josh Jones (Salford Red Devils, Blackbrook Royals), Jack Ashworth (St Helens, Rochdale Mayfield), Matt Lees (St Helens, Rochdale Mayfield), Danny Richardson (St Helens, Halton Farnworth Hornets), James Batchelor (Wakefield Trinity, Crigglestone All Blacks), Toby King (Warrington Wolves, Meltham All Blacks), Tom Lineham (Warrington Wolves, York RUFC), Dec Patton (Warrington Wolves, Latchford Giants), Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves, Culcheth Eagles), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves, Rylands Sharks), Joe Bullock (Wigan Warriors, Blackpool Scorpions), Tom Davies (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks), Joe Greenwood (Wigan Warriors, Saddleworth Rangers), Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks), Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors, Leigh Miners), Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks).