strong Academy squad to play France

Head of England Pathways, Paul Anderson, today announces a 21-strong England Academy squad to face the French ‘Espoirs’ (Under 19s) in Saint-Gaudens on Saturday 8 July.

With two games of this year’s three-match Academy Origin series now completed, Anderson and assistant coaches Shane Eccles (Lancashire & Wigan Warriors) and Rob Nickolay (Yorkshire & Castleford Tigers) were able to run the rule over all the players who have featured in Origin to date, plus others such as Leeds Rhinos’ Jack Sinfield who have been away on Super League duty.

Stand-off Sinfield is one of three Rhinos included, alongside three-quarters Jack Smith and Neil Tchamambe – both try scorers for Yorkshire in last month’s 32-all Origin II draw at Hull KR’s Sewell Group Craven Park stadium.

Another player with Super League experience in 2023, Warrington Wolves’ backrower Lucas Green, is chosen together with Wolves teammates Joe Bajer, Thomas McKinney and Nolan Tupaea.

Six St Helens players are selected, along with four apiece from Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors, three from Leeds Rhinos, two from Hull FC and one each from Hull KR and Wakefield Trinity. It was the Robins’ sole representative, Louix Gorman, who kept alive Yorkshire’s interest in the 2023 Academy Origin series with a dramatic last-gasp try at Craven Park.

England Academy Head Coach, Paul Anderson, says:

“Academy Origin is about preparing players for international competition – and travelling to the south of France to take on a slightly older French side in their own backyard will provide a stern test.

“All of the players making the trip have the potential to become elite performers on the domestic and international stage – as do a number of players who have just missed out on selection. Their time will come.

“Like the playing squad, the backroom team is also drawn from clubs from across the Academy competition and I’d like to thank them for their buy-in and support for what we are trying to achieve. The pinnacle of Academy Rugby League is only as strong as its roots and the relationship between our clubs and England Pathways is going from strength to strength.”

France will be coached by the former Catalans Dragons and Sydney Roosters forward Rémi Casty, now assistant coach at Toulouse Olympique. Casty will select the France squad following trial games on 17 and 25 June.

England Academy squad

Joe Bajer (Warrington Wolves), Ryan Brown (Wigan Warriors), Jack Charles (Hull FC), Leon Cowen (St Helens), Owen Dagnall (St Helens), Jack Farrimond (Wigan Warriors), Louix Gorman (Hull KR), Lucas Green (Warrington Wolves), Taylor Kerr (Wigan Warriors), Thomas McKinney (Warrington Wolves), Thomas Ratchford (Wigan Warriors), Harry Robertson (St Helens), Dayon Sambou (St Helens), Jack Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos), Harvey Smith (Wakefield Trinity), Jack Smith (Leeds Rhinos), Noah Stephens (St Helens), Neil Tchamambe (Leeds Rhinos), Nolan Tupaea (Warrington Wolves), Jon Vaughan (St Helens), Cobie Wainhouse (Hull FC)

On stand-by

Riley Lumb (Leeds Rhinos), Kian McDermott (Wigan Warriors), Lukas Mason (Wigan Warriors), Ciaran Nolan (St Helens), Joe Phillips (Leeds Rhinos), George Whitby (St Helens), Ethan Wood (Wakefield Trinity), Cai Taylor Wray (Warrington Wolves)

England Academy staff

Head coach – Paul Anderson (England/RFL)

Assistant coach – Shane Eccles (Wigan Warriors),

Assistant coach – Rob Nickolay (Castleford Tigers)

Performance – Cameron Owen ( England/RFL)

Performance – Sam Wild (England/RFL)

Physio – Matt Abbott (England/RFL)

Physio – Joe McLoughlin (St Helens)

Doctor – Dr Patrick Tung (Wakefield Trinity)

Wellbeing – Steve Hardisty (RL Cares)

Team manager – Sasch Brook (Hull FC)

PA – Matt Halkier (England/RFL)