England Knights Head Coach Paul Anderson has named three Saints in his 20-man squad for the match against Jamaica at Castleford on Friday (15 October, 7.45pm).
Matty Lees, Lewis Dodd and Aaron Smith are all included with Dodd and Lees undertaking post-Grand Final fitness tests before joining the squad later next week.
Anderson is placing the emphasis on youth as the wider England set up looks forward to the 2025 World Cup as much as to the challenge of facing a talented Jamaica side at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle. The squad has an average age of just 21 and includes five highly promising teenagers.
Also included are 10 former England Academy players who have graduated to the Knights squad, among them St Helens’ Betfred Super League Grand Final winner Lewis Dodd and Warrington Wolves’ Ellis Longstaff.
Another former England Academy representative, Mikey Lewis of Hull KR, is included in a Knights squad for the first time, as is Wigan Warriors’ former Croydon Hurricanes and London Broncos second-row Kai Pearce-Paul.
And there’s a call-up too for the 17-years old Leeds Rhinos’ centre Levi Edwards, who caught the eye with an outstanding display in this year’s Yorkshire versus Lancashire Academy Origin clash.
Anderson says: “Through the Knights programme we’re investing in the future of England Rugby League, and although we’ve had a few injuries and promotions to the senior set up it’s created opportunities for others to come in and show what they can do. I’m really excited about working with this group of players and helping them realise their potential.”
England Knights will spend the week in camp in Leeds preparing for the Jamaica clash, which is also a testimonial match for Castleford Tigers’ Jordan Turner who is expected to line up for the ‘Reggae Warriors’. The Knights’ preparation also includes a joint field session with Shaun Wane’s senior squad at Leeds Rhinos’ Emerald Headingley stadium.
Anderson adds: “The Knights is about developing talent, preparing well and competing hard. My job is to prepare players for the next step, the senior international team, and the connectivity between the two squads is massive.
“In camp players will be exposed to the critical differences between what they experience day-in and day-out with their clubs, and what they can expect as England internationals. For some of these players the chance to represent the senior side may come at this year’s World Cup, for others it might be 2025.”
Tickets for England Knights versus Jamaica are available now online at skiddle.com.
England Knights squad
Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves), Jack Broadbent (Leeds Rhinos), Lewis Dodd (St Helens), Levi Edwards (Leeds Rhinos), Matthew English (Huddersfield Giants), Morgan Gannon (Leeds Rhinos), Sam Halsall (Wigan Warriors), Tom Holroyd (Leeds Rhinos), George Lawler (Hull KR), Matthew Lees (St Helens), Mikey Lewis (Hull KR), Ellis Longstaff (Warrington Wolves), James McDonnell, Liam Marshall, Kai Pearce-Paul (all Wigan Warriors), Will Pryce (Huddersfield Giants), Aaron Smith (St Helens), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Oliver Wilson (Huddersfield Giants), Connor Wrench (Warrington Wolves).