The iconic Great Britain jersey will return to the international stage this autumn.
The recent meeting of the Rugby League International Federation confirmed a four-match tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea for the Great Britain Rugby League Lions – with full details of the schedule to be released in Auckland tonight.
It will be the first time Great Britain have played since the home series against New Zealand in the autumn of 2007, and their first appearance in the southern hemisphere since the 2006 Tri-Series – reviving a tradition which dates back to 1910, when the first touring team after the 1895 Northern Union breakaway were known as the Lions.
In addition to two Tests against the Kiwis and one against the Kumuls – the latter a first in Papua New Guinea since 1996 – Great Britain will play their first ever Test against the Tonga team who made such an impact in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, including in a stirring semi final against England in Auckland.
Wayne Bennett, who has been the England coach since 2016, will be the head coach of the 2019 Rugby League Lions, with further details of his support staff, the composition of the squad and the selection process, the kit design, and kick-off times and travel packages for the tour to follow in coming weeks. “It’s an honour to be involved in the revival of the Great Britain team as head coach,” said Bennett. “I’ve coached against them in the past with Australia, and wherever you’re from in the world of Rugby League, that Great Britain jersey is a famous one – and I’m sure the current generation of players will be excited by the prospect of wearing it and representing their country in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. “It’s an exciting prospect for international Rugby League, and good to have that Great Britain tradition back.”
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said:“The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time – so this is an exciting announcement for us. “It’s 12 years since Great Britain last played a Test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006. “While the development of the England Performance Unit has been a priority and a success for the RFL, across Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League – and will continue to be as we build towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup – there is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt. “It’s great for the game to have it back, as part of the schedule drawn up by the RLIF also including the Oceania Cup. We’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition as we build up to the tour through 2019.”
The announcement has also been welcomed by senior figures from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Barry Coade, Chairman of Rugby League Ireland, said: “We are delighted that Great Britain & Ireland will tour again this Autumn. The tour looks like a real challenge given the rise of the Pacific nations and we think this is a big step forward for international Rugby League.”
Keith Hogg, the Chair of Scotland Rugby League, said: “Having the Great Britain team back is a boost for all of the home nations. We are proud of the contribution made by Scots to Great Britain Rugby League in the past, most obviously when Dave Valentine lifted the World Cup in 1954, and this announcement is a great incentive for young Scottish players to maintain that tradition in the future.”
Paul Chambers, General Manager of Wales Rugby League, said: “Wales Rugby League fully embrace and support the first Great Britain Rugby League tour to the Southern Hemisphere for many years. The whole concept of the Rugby League Lions adds another dimension to the ambitions of players and staff involved with all Home Nations and Wales Rugby League are looking forward to promoting and being involved in the process.”
The Rugby Football League today announced a restructure of the England Performance Unit which involves an expanded role for Paul Sculthorpe MBE, and contract extensions for Kevin Sinfield MBE and Jamie Peacock MBE.
Sculthorpe, the only man to win Super League’s Man of Steel award in consecutive years, has been appointed England Pathways Coach, meaning he will be working with all teams in the EPU and focusing on the country’s outstanding young players, from Junior Academy to Knights level – following his involvement in last autumn’s successful England Knights tour of Papua New Guinea.
Sinfield, who joined the RFL as Rugby Director in 2016 and has continued in that role since being appointed as Director of Rugby at Leeds Rhinos last summer, has committed to the RFL role until 2022 – after the Rugby League World Cup on home soil in 2021.
Peacock, another former England and Great Britain captain who has been working as the England team manager since July 2016, has also extended his agreement with the RFL until 2021.
Paul Anderson will be continuing as Knights head coach in a consultancy role after joining Warrington’s backroom staff since the end of last season, and the former Warrington forward David Elliott remains National Programme Manager and head coach of the England Academy team after the 2-0 series victory over the Australian Schoolboys last month.
Ben Jones, previously the Research and Innovation Manager, takes a new role as England Performance Director; Jane Phillips takes over as Head of England Operations; and Barry Frost continues as Head of Performance Analysis.
Further announcements about the England Women and Wheelchair coaching staff will be made later this year.
Ralph Rimmer, the RFL chief executive, said: “We created the England Performance Unit last January after proposals from Kevin Sinfield, and the results for 2018 speak for themselves.
“Our senior England men’s team won four games out of five Tests played, three of them against New Zealand.
“England Women had a big win in France – although we recognise that securing more international competition for them is a major priority for 2019 and beyond – and on one memorable Saturday in October, the Knights made it three wins out of three for our England teams when they won their first international in Papua New Guinea.
“That was followed by the superb performances of Dave Elliott’s England Academy team against the Australian Schoolboys.
“So it’s great to be able to announce the news that Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Paul Sculthorpe – three truly outstanding players of the Super League era – will retain key roles in the EPU, as we continue to build towards hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
“We recognise there is a need for clarity about international fixtures for all our national teams – men’s, women’s and wheelchair – and rest assured we are working hard behind the scenes to allow us to make further positive announcements as soon as possible.
“The EPU is delivering exactly as we had hoped, which is thanks to those involved and also the support of the clubs.
“We remain focused on success in the RLWC2021 and beyond, as we all understand the impact this can have for the sport in the UK – and are therefore delighted to have secured these key personnel on that journey.” England Performance Unit 2019
England Rugby Director; Kevin Sinfield (Consultant)
England Performance Director; Ben Jones (Consultant)
Knights Head Coach; Paul Anderson (Consultant)
National Programme Manager; Dave Elliott (Employee)
England Pathways Coach; Paul Sculthorpe (Consultant)
Head of England Operations; Jane Phillips (Employee)
RFL Head of Coaching and Player Development; Dave Rotheram (Employee)
Performance Analysis; Barry Frost (Consultant)
England Knights head coach Paul Anderson has named 17 players who will take on Papua New Guinea in Lae this Saturday, October 27 (KO 6.00am BST).
Salford Red Devils full-back Niall Evalds is selected for Saturday’s opener after an impressive season which saw him finish as the Club’s top try-scorer.
Following their impressive displays for England Men’s Elite squad against France last week, Castleford Tigers’ second row Oliver Holmes, Liam Sutcliffe of Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR’s Robbie Mulhern are all included in the squad.
Knights Captain Jack Hughes is joined by Warrington Wolves’ team mates Toby King, Tom Lineham, Joe Philbin and Declan Patton, who was called up to the squad as a late addition.
Named as vice-captain alongside Mulhern, Wigan Warriors’ Sam Powell is joined by Grand Final winning winger Tom Davies in the side to take on the Kumuls this weekend.
Young Player of the Year nominee Matty Lees is also named Kruise Leeming of Huddersfield Giants. Hull KR half-back Chris Atkin and Wakefield Trinity’s James Batchelor.
Hull FC have two representatives in the side, loose forward Dean Hadley and utility forward Brad Fash.
On Thursday, the Knights fly to Lae for the first match against the Kumuls on Saturday, October 27 before moving to the capital Port Moresby where the teams meet again at the 15,0000-capacity Oil Search National Football Stadium on November 3. England Knights squad to face PNG in full:
Salford Red Devils fullback Niall Evalds has been selected for the England Knights squad ahead of their two-game series against Papua New Guinea.
Evalds finished the year as Salford Red Devils’ top try-scorer for the second consecutive season racking up an impressive 13 tries.
England Knights Head Coach Paul Anderson has called the 25-year-old fullback up in place of Wigan – and former Salford loanee – Oliver Gildart who has moved into the England side for the Autumn internationals against France and New Zealand.
Gildart moves into the England squad in place of an injured Sam Burgess while Warrington’s Tom Lineham has moved into the England Knights squad as a replacement for Castleford’s Greg Minikin who has withdrawn through injury.
Luke Gale has also pulled out of the England squad with a knee injury and a replacement will be named early next week before the one-off Test against France at Leigh Sports Village.
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Niall Evalds has been named in the 31-man England Knights Performance Squad for the second phase of the season.
The England Knights are set to travel to Papua New Guinea for two test matches later this season.
Head Coach Ian Watson said: “It’s fantastic that Niall has retained his place in the Knight squad for the second phase despite having a spell on the sidelines.
“I think it just shows the quality of player Niall is and how well he was playing earlier on in the season prior to his knock.
“He returned last weekend at Catalans and has been training really well in recent weeks so it’s now up to Niall to have a big end to the season and nail down a spot in the England Knights side.
England Knights Head Coach, Paul Anderson, said: “The return of England Knights has been welcomed this year and the KPS sessions have been hugely positive and valuable for the players involved.
“It’s great to be able to include new faces to the squad as we head towards the end of the season and build towards the two matches against Papua New Guinea on tour.”
Salford Red Devils can confirm that fullback Niall Evalds suffered a broken leg in last week’s game against Huddersfield Giants.
Evalds has been a standout performer for the Red Devils so far this season crossing for seven tries in all competitions so far in 2018. Evalds is also a member of the England Knights squad who are set to face Papua New Guinea at the end of the season.
Head Coach Ian Watson said: “Obviously losing Niall is a blow for us, he’s been terrific so far this season in attack and defensively with his backfield play.
“However, I’m confident with the players that I have at my disposal we can adjust and continue to perform while Niall is sidelined.
“This creates a chance for other players in the squad to now step in and grasp their opportunity with both hands.”
Today the Rugby Football League have confirmed that the England Knights will take on Papua New Guinea in a two-game series later this year.
The 24-man squad – which includes Salford Red Devils full-back Niall Evalds – will play against the Kumuls on Saturday 27th October in Lae before a second fixture in Port Moresby on 3rd November.
Following extensive planning alongside officials from Papua New Guinea, the squad will spend time at the state of the art training facilities of Brisbane Broncos in Australia before travelling to the island, where Rugby League is the national sport, for a two-game series against the 10th ranked side in the world who also progressed to the quarter-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Rugby Football League Interim Chief Executive, Ralph Rimmer, said: “The England Knights programme is an integral part of our vision for a successful national team in the next four years and beyond.
“We were determined that we would create meaningful games and experiences that would test this squad of players and travelling to the other side of the world, to one of the most passionate and avid Rugby League nations on the planet will certainly do that.
“We are absolutely committed to creating an environment and selection of fixtures that give us the best chance of winning the World Cup in 2021 and 2025 and I have spoken to the coaches and players involved in the England Performance Unit and I know that they are all incredibly excited about the opportunity to test themselves later this year.” Following his selection Niall Evalds spoke to Salford Red Devils TV you can watch the full video below:
Four Salford Red Devils have been named in their respective countries squads for the second round of fixtures at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Craig Kopczak will once again captain Wales as they face Fiji in Townsville. Salford new-boy Gavin Bennion is also named in John Kear’s 21-man squad after linking up with the team this past week.
Manu Vatuvei has been named in Tonga’s 21-man squad as they look to make it two wins from two on Saturday against Samoa.
After impressing in Ireland’s victory over Italy last weekend Tyrone McCarthy is again named in Mark Aston’s squad as the Irish get ready to do battle with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.
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Craig Kopczak’s Welsh side fell to a heavy 50-6 defeat in their 2017 Rugby League World Cup opener against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.
Kopczak captained a Wales side featuring several Super League players including impressive young St Helens duo Morgan Knowles and Regan Grace however the Kumuls boasting Paul Aiton, James Segeyaro and Castleford’s new signing Garry Lo were just too strong.
Brisbane Broncos’ David Mead was a thorn in Wales side all afternoon and the full-back crossed for two tries early on to put the hosts in control. The Kumuls went into half-time with a 26-0 lead after Nene MacDonald, Kato Ottio and Willie Minoga all crossed before the interval.
Papua New Guinea continued their dominance after the break as Rhyse Martin scored just three minutes after the break and followed it up with a second midway through the half. Justin Olam latched onto a low kick to extend the hosts lead before Mead notched his hat-trick.
The Kumuls hit the half-century as Martin converted a Paul Aiton try but Wales did get themselves on the scoresheet with the final play of the game as Regan Grace planted the ball down following a clever kick over the top from Matt Seamark.
Wales will face Fiji next Sunday in Townsville while Papua New Guinea host Tyrone McCarthy’s Ireland in Port Moresby next weekend. PNG: Mead, Olam, Ottio, MacDonald, Lo; A. Boas, W. Boas; Albert, Puara, Page, Martin, Griffin, Aiton. Interchanges: Baptiste, Minoga, Segeyaro, Maki. Wales: Kear, Williams, Channing, Gay, Grace; Davies, Seamark; Kopczak, Parry, Joseph, Lloyd, Morris, Knowles. Interchanges: Fozard, Hopkins, Evans, Butler. Attendance: 14,800.