Leeds Rhinos quartet named in England performance squad ahead of wheelchair rugby league World Cup

Four Leeds Rhinos players have been named in England’s 16-strong national performance squad as preparations step up for this year’s Wheelchair World Cup.

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 9:00 am
Rhinos' James Simpson is an ambassador for this year's World Cup. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

James Simpson, Tom Halliwell , Nathan Collins and Josh Butler have been called up by coaches Tom Coyd and Martyn Rothwell.

The selection was made after last weekend’s season-opening wheelchair rugby league 4s in Sheffield, where England’s mid-season international against Wales will be played on June 26.

Wheelchair Super League kicks off today with Rhinos involved in a triple-header against

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Leyland Warriors and North Wales Crusaders in Preston.

That will be streamed live on the RFL’s Our League website and Twitch, from 1.30pm.

Leyland’s Adam Rigby and Declan Roberts are also in the England squad.

Coyd said: “This was a tough selection as the 2020 national performance

squad worked so hard over the last 18 months, all the way through the adversity in lockdowns and the suspension of training and games.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more and we have improved in many areas.

“We now have an intense month to get ready to perform against Wales in the mid-season

International and the pressure is on all of the players to get into the team and deliver against a strong Wales team.

“We are excited about the opportunity and very focused on achieving our standards in everything we do.”

Coyd will select a 10-player squad for the Wales match, which will be followed by a week of trials and games in July before a 10-player World Cup squad is named later in the summer.

Seven of the England performance squad will clash in Hull today when Halifax Panthers, the reigning Wheelchair Super League champions, take on the Argonauts Skeleton Army from Kent.

Halifax are represented by Nathan Mulhall, Wayne Boardman and Rob Hawkins, the wheelchair young player of the year in 2019.

Lewis King, wheelchair player of the year for 2019, is one of four Argonauts in the squad, alongside Joe Coyd, James Hazel and Fred Nye.

Warrington’s Lenny Izzard is the only Championship player in the squad and there are two who are based overseas - Seb Bechara of the Catalans Dragons and Jack Brown, who was the inaugural winner of international rugby league’s wheelchair Golden Boot as the best player of the world in 2019 and remains a key figure in England’s World Cup planning despite his recent move to Queensland.

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