Wigan and Huddersfield each have three newcomers in the 34-man England Knights Performance Squad announced today.
Dom Manfredi, who scored two tries in Wigan’s Betfred Super League Grand Final victory over Warrington last autumn, is joined by fellow winger Liam Marshall and Blackpool-born former Barrow forward Joe Bullock – lifting the Warriors’ representation in the KPS to five, as Tom Davies and Sam Powell are also included after impressing on the Knights tour of Papua New Guinea last autumn.
Matt English, Adam O’Brien and Darnell McIntosh are the three Huddersfield newcomers, meaning the Giants also have five players in the squad as Kruise Leeming and Oliver Roberts retain their places after call-ups last year.
Salford’s experienced second-row Josh Jones, the young St Helens forward Jack Ashworth, Castleford’s Gloucestershire-born forward Alex Foster and Leeds Rhinos’ Cameron Smith are the other four newcomers.
Warrington Wolves have the most players in the squad with six, followed by Leeds, Wigan and Huddersfield with five each.
The squad is completed by three players from St Helens, three from Castleford, two from each of Salford and Hull FC, plus James Batchelor of Wakefield Trinity, Hull KR’s Chris Atkin, and Matt Whitley of the Catalans Dragons.
The KPS will join the 30-man England Performance Squad at their first get-together of the season next month, and will hold a number of other meetings and training sessions in the remainder of the year – with at least one home fixture being planned for this autumn, when the senior Great Britain squad are on tour in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Paul Anderson, the England Knights head coach, said: “We think this is an exciting group of players, all of whom know from their selection that they are very much in the thoughts of the England coaches.
“Involvement in the Knights set-up gives them the chance to impress, as has been shown by the England debuts made by so many players from the KPS last year, and the inclusion in this year’s England Performance Squad of Robbie Mulhern and our 2018 captain Jack Hughes.
“The trip to Papua New Guinea last year was such a memorable trip for all of us but also a massive benefit both physically and mentally as we develop elite level players for future tournaments, building towards the 2021 and 2025 World Cups.”
England Knights Performance Squad in full:
Alex Foster (Castleford Tigers, Wetherby Bulldogs)
Oliver Holmes (Castleford Tigers, Normanton Knights)
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)
Adam O’Brien (Huddersfield Giants, Siddal)
Oliver Roberts (Huddersfield Giants, Siddal)
Chris Atkin (Hull KR, Liverpool John Moores University)
Dean Hadley (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
Masimbaashe Matongo (Hull FC, West Hull)
Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos, Lock Lane)
Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Jack Walker (Leeds Rhinos, East Leeds)
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)
Harvey Livett (Warrington Wolves, Rylands Sharks)
Dec Patton (Warrington Wolves, Latchford Giants)
Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves, Culcheth Eagles)
Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves, Rylands Sharks)
Joe Bullock (Wigan Warriors, Blackpool Scorpion)
Tom Davies (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors, Leigh Miners)
Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)