Luke Thompson is set to start on the bench for the Great Britain Lions against New Zealand on Saturday whilst six St.Helens Women have been named in an 18-strong squad for their groundbreaking Test against Papua New Guinea Orchids in Goroka tomorrow (4am GMT).
Thompson has had to step up again after Warrington forward Joe Philbin was ruled out through injury.
Having lost Oliver Gildart and Ryan Hall, injuries to Zak Hardaker and Philbin left Wayne Bennett with just 20 fit players, including only one specialist three-quarter which means stand-off Blake Austin will have to play on the wing.
Bennett has been surprised by Thompson’s recovery from a popped rib cartilage but says the 24-year-old is confident about being able to play some part in Saturday’s game.
“Luke is confident enough to play and he will be on the interchange bench.
“I am a bit surprised [he is fit to play] but the cartilage is staying in now, it’s not popping out any more.
“He’s a bit discomforted by it but that’s not an unusual thing, players do play with those injuries.
“He’s enough to play, he’ll come off the bench. That will mean there is less impact at the start of the game but there will certainly be plenty of impact when he comes on.”
When asked why Regan Grace was not called up, Bennett said: “I don’t want to bring anyone in for this test because they wouldn’t get here until Wednesday or Thursday and this group has been together for four weeks.
“Ash Handley was in the nines and the Knights programme and we are trying to bring young players through that programme and he played only recently in the nines. Tommy Makinson should have been here, but got injured in the Grand Final.
“We didn’t discuss him [Regan] because we knew Ash through the nines and half of this squad so it just made the transition a lot easier. I am just trying to keep it simple at the moment. Grace is a wonderful player and he played some really good footy in the nines too and hopefully he will get an opportunity down the line.”
Great Britain: J Lomax (St Helens); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), J Hughes (Warrington), J Connor (Hull FC), B Austin (Warrington); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), J Hastings (Salford); C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), T Burgess (South Sydney), J Bateman (Canberra), E Whitehead (Canberra), J Graham (St George Illawarra, capt).
Replacements (from): J Jones (Salford), D Clark (Warrington), A Walmsley (St Helens), L Thompson (St Helens), G Williams (Wigan), L Coote (St Helens).
Dom Peyroux included in Cook Islands squad
Peyroux has been selected in Tony Iro’s Cook Islands squad for their decisive RLWC2021 qualifying clash with USA Hawks.
The crucial fixture in Jacksonville, Florida will decide the 16th and final qualification spot available for the competition, set to kick off in England in October 2021.
With 14 nations already qualified for the tournament, Greece and Serbia will fight it out for the final European spot on November 9 before the final spot is decided in Jacksonville on November 16.
Kevin Naiqama nominated for prestigous Golden Boot award
Kevin Naiqama has been nominated for the Goldon Boot award alongside Great Britain’s John Bateman.
International Rugby League (IRL) will be awarding the prestigious Golden Boot trophies to the players adjudged by a panel of media to have put in the best performances in full international matches in 2019 in both the men’s and the women’s games. The winners will be announced once the final scheduled games for the year are complete.
The full nominees are:
Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Tonga)
Tui Lolohea (Tonga)
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand)
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (New Zealand)
Damien Cook (Australia)
Payne Haas (Australia)
John Bateman (Great Britain)
Viliame Kikau (Fiji)
Kevin Naiqama (Fiji)
Brandon Wakeman (Fiji)
Jess Sergis (Australian Jillaroos)
Ali Brigginshaw (Australian Jillaroos)
Six Saints in England Women’s Squad
Naomi Williams, Jodie Cunningham, Faye Gaskin, Tara Jones, Emily Rudge and Chantelle Crowl have all been named in an 18-strong squad for their groundbreaking Test against Papua New Guinea Orchids in Goroka tomorrow (4am GMT).
England will have only five survivors from the team who beat the Orchids 36-8 in their last 13-a-side meeting at the World Cup in Australia in 2017 – although the teams have more recent experience from the World Cup Nines in Sydney last month, when England won a pool match 25-4.
England are expecting a tougher test from the Orchids on home soil – especially in what will be the first ever Women’s international outside the PNG capital, Port Moresby.
Goroka is the capital of the Eastern Highlands province, best-known in Rugby League as the birthplace of the former Hull and Hull KR favourite Stanley Gene, and the squad were overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome they received on arrival earlier this week, following a training camp in Brisbane.
Emily Rudge, the St Helens forward who will captain the team, said: “We were heading into the unknown when we found out we were coming to Goroka, but we’ve had an amazing welcome.
“The people of Goroka have been so friendly, welcoming and supportive of us when we’ve been out to the local hospitals and schools and I’m hopeful they’ll all turn out in force to witness a great game between ourselves and the Orchids.
“It is going to be an historic Test with it being the first Women’s international outside of Port Moresby and for Women’s sport to be given this sort of platform in a rural area of Papua New Guinea is truly ground-breaking.”
The second Test will be played at Port Moresby’s Oil Search Stadium next Saturday (November 17), ahead of the men’s Test between Great Britain and the PNG Kumuls – and the RFL hopes to be able to confirm live coverage on Our League next week.
England team – each player listed with England Women RL Heritage Number:
- Tara-Jane Stanley (Castleford, 43)
- Rebecca Greenfield (Wigan, 71)
- Rachel Thompson (Wigan, 69)
- Naomi Williams (St Helens, 72)
- Kelsey Gentles (Castleford, 79)
- Jodie Cunningham (St Helens, 33)
- Faye Gaskin (St Helens, 57)
- Amy Johnson (Leeds, 76)
- Tara Jones (St Helens, 50)
- Grace Field (Castleford, 78)
- Emily Rudge (St Helens, captain, 27)
- Chantelle Crowl (St Helens, 67)
- Shannon Lacey (Leeds, 80)
- Dannielle Anderson (Leeds, 75)
- Tamzin Renouf (Castleford, 81)
- Charlotte Booth (Leeds, 49)
- Georgia Roche (Castleford, 74)
- Sinead Peach (Castleford, 65)