Uncapped Leeds Rhinos prop Mikolaj Oledzki makes Shaun Wane's England squad with Huddersfield Giants' Jake Wardle
UNCAPPED Leeds Rhinos duo Mikolaj Oledzki and Ash Handley, Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane, Wakefield Trinity duo Joe Westerman and Reece Lyne and Huddersfield Giants rookie Jake Wardle have all been named in England’s provisional 24-player squad for next week’s game against the Combined Nations All Stars.
Prop Oledzki has been rewarded by coach Shaun Wane for some excellent club form, earning promotion from the England Knights squad and now in line to potentially make history as the first Poland-born player to play international rugby league.
Rhinos captain Luke Gale is also included in the squad - which will be reduced to 19 before players go into camp next week - ahead of the mid-season international at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium next Friday.
Some of the big name exclusions include veteran hooker James Roby - which points at McShane making his international debut at the age of 31 - and Gareth Widdop, the Warrington Wolves playmaker who was last week recalled to Wane’s plans.
Widdop is perhaps omitted because George Williams is included.
The ex-Wigan Warriors No7 returns to England as a free agent following his release on compassionate grounds from Canberra Raiders.
Another Knights graduate, the Warrington Wolves centre Toby King, is also called up with Morgan Knowles, St Helens’ Barrow-born loose forward who represented Wales at the 2017 World Cup but switched allegiances to England last year.
There are also first call-ups for Huddersfield’s explosive centre Wardle and for Tom Davies, who is one of the two Catalans Dragons players in the squad alongside Sam Tomkins.
Loose forward Westerman is re-called to the England set up after an absence of seven years and no NRL-based players were considered for selection.
Wane said: “We have a good blend of youth, versatility and experience, and I have every confidence in whoever makes the final cut.
“I watch every Betfred Super League game, every week, at least once, and all of these players have earned the right to play for England.”
24-player England squad: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington Wolves), Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Luke Gale, Ash Handley (both Leeds Rhinos), Toby King (Warrington Wolves), Morgan Knowles (St Helens), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington Wolves), Dan Sarginson (Salford Red Devils), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants), Joe Westerman (Wakefield Trinity), George Williams (Free agent).