The Newcastle Knights winger, Dom Young, will almost certainly make his Test debut for England in Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup opener against Samoa, after he was named alongside five other uncapped players in Shaun Wane’s 19-man squad for the first match of the tournament.
Wane’s squad for the Group A opener against a Samoan side labelled favourites in some quarters contains a mixture of youth and experience, and will also keep many guessing about certain aspects of the line-up Wane sends out at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon. The squad includes six players yet to feature in an official Test match for England, including the NRL trio of Young, Herbie Farnworth and Victor Radley, all of whom impressed in last Friday’s non-Test win over Fiji.
The St Helens star, Jack Welsby, is also in line to make his first Test appearance, with the uncapped Salford half-back, Marc Sneyd, and Wigan forward, Kai Pearce-Paul, also included. One clear selection dilemma for Wane has already been resolved, with Young named in the 19-man squad ahead of England mainstay, Ryan Hall. It means the winger, who scored against Fiji last week and produced an eye-catching display, will start on one wing, with Tommy Makinson on the other.
Wane said earlier in the week he had settled on his half-back pairing for the opening game of the World Cup but with Sneyd, Welsby and George Williams all named in his 19-man squad, it is clear he intends on keeping Samoa guessing until kick-off on Saturday afternoon. Michael McIlorum is the sole hooker in the squad after Salford’s Andy Ackers, another who caught the eye against Fiji, misses out on selection.
Catalans full-back Sam Tomkins will captain the side in his first Rugby League World Cup appearance since 2013, having being left out for the 2017 tournament in Australia and New Zealand. He is one of five players in the 19-man squad with over 20 Test caps to his name, alongside South Sydney forward Tom Burgess, Huddersfield’s Chris Hill, Canberra’s Elliott Whitehead and the Salford centre, Kallum Watkins.
England will be without another experienced forward for the opener at St James’ Park, with Wigan’s John Bateman serving the final game of a three-match suspension. A crowd approaching 45,000 is expected to be in attendance, with organisers confident a new opening-day attendance record will be set for the Rugby League World Cup, with reigning champions Australia playing Fiji later on Saturday evening in Leeds.