France – England: Schedule for men’s and women’s teams takes shape

England’s men said goodbye to 2023 with a 3-0 series win over Tonga, which boasted leading NRL players Addin Fonua-Blake, Tyson Frizell and Felise Kaufusi.

The France match will be Wane’s first opportunity to call up some of that group for a competitive match, and he will use a squad made up entirely of Super League clubs and no players from the southern hemisphere.

There have been some new arrivals from left field. At 27, Castleford centre Sam Wood is no newcomer to the scene – but he has earned a place thanks to his form for Hull KR before his injury last season and in a slowly developing Tigers side this year.

At the other end of the scale is St Helens striker George Delaney, who has made just 44 appearances and only turned 20 in February, yet he doesn’t look out of place among English strikers such as Alex Walmsley and Matty Lees.

There is also a first-choice selection for Elliot Minchella, Hull KR’s influential captain and strong loose forward, as well as Leeds’ back-row striker James McDonnell, Huddersfield’s support player Oliver Wilson and Wigan’s aggressive and defensively strong Brad O’Neill at hooker.

“Success for me is seeing things that I want to see. There are certain things that I look for without giving too much away,” Wane added.

“I have the England standards that all players know: I don’t like to miss chances, I like my defence to be intense and under pressure.

“So there are certain things that are non-negotiable and that I want to see. That’s what I want to see against France and if the players can show that in this game, they’ll have a really good chance of being called up for Samoa.”

The incentive for the English talents of the Super League is great and this depth of players will be very welcome to Wane in the big games of the coming years.

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