Talking Points from England’s wins over Combined All Stars and France
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1: Four-way battle. The quartet of hookers involved in the All Stars game are all in World Cup contention for England, but if coach Shaun Wane selects on form, Leeds’ Kruise Leeming will be included. He came off the bench for All Stars, replacing Daryl Clark and was their best player. England substitute Paul McShane, of Castleford Tigers, didn’t have his finest game and Wane felt Leeds-born Michael McIlorum was the best, but Leeming continued his strong form this season and deserves a place.
2: Prior concern. The sternum injury suffered by Matt Prior was just what Rhinos didn’t want. He was in obvious discomfort on the sideline, but apparently could have returned after treatment at half-time. Credit to the Combined Nations’ management for not throwing him back on and risking making it worse, which would have been unfair to a club who have enthusiastically supported the All Stars concept.
3: Taking the Mik. Mik Oledzki was Rhinos’ only representative in the England squad and did his World Cup chances no harm. The Polish-born prop, 22, has made remarkable progress since taking up rugby league as a teenager and is one of the few English players with the physical presence to worry the likes of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific nations.
4: Promising signs. England look in better shape than a year ago and are clearly trying to play a good brand of rugby. They’ll need a big improvement to win the World Cup, but do seem to be heading in the right direction.
5: French lessons. The all-Rhinos half-back pairing of Courtney Winfield-Hill and Georgia Roche, both former Women of Steel, combined well in the curtain-raiser. It’s encouraging, for Leeds and England, to see Roche regaining the sort of form she showed for Castleford a few years ago.