England Rugby League Series Against Samoa: Selection Dilemma for Coach Wane

England Head Coach Shaun Wane Highlights Key Selection Dilemma Ahead of Samoa Series

On the heels of the announcement that England will face Samoa in a two-game series later this year, head coach Shaun Wane has highlighted the three players who will present him with a selection dilemma. Rugby league fans had eagerly anticipated confirmation of the much-discussed series against the 2021 World Cup finalists, which was officially announced earlier this week. The matches will take place in Wigan and Leeds during the final weekend of October and the first weekend of November, just two and three weeks after the Grand Final at Old Trafford.

While the series may be a brief one, it promises to be an enthralling encounter, and Super League supporters will be keen to see if their club’s players earn a call-up. With numerous positions up for grabs, Wane has now revealed to The Sportsman which area could see the fiercest competition.

According to the England head coach, the battle for the half-back roles will be the most hotly contested, with it seemingly set to come down to a two-way shootout between Harry Smith and Mikey Lewis to partner captain George Williams. The pair featured together in the opening two tests against Tonga in 2023, with Williams missing the final clash due to suspension, before Smith then linked up with the Warrington star, suggesting the Wigan man may have the edge.

“There’s no doubt about that. I mean, George played in one game, but he’s my captain and he’s a great player is George. I think Harry and Mikey have acquitted themselves, both of themselves, unbelievably well in terms of how they handled the camp as well. It’s not only playing games, it’s the amount of time spent together.”

Wane expressed his delight at the quality of options available, stating:

Wane also revealed the key ingredients behind fostering a strong team culture, emphasizing the importance of enjoyment and pride. He said:

“I want the players to enjoy it. Playing for England has to be an enjoyable pleasure. We’re all proud Englishmen and I include Victor Radley and people like that in that. So when we get together it’s not just all about really pushing the players out, it’s enjoying our time together and the spirit we had celebrating after the third test when we won it 3-0, it was like a group of friends.”

Wane’s ability to unite the players and overcome the historical challenges of domestic rivalries within the national team setup will be crucial as England prepare to face France in two weeks and then tackle Samoa later in the year.

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