England Wheelchair will play for the first time since late in 2019 as they take on Wales on Saturday, 12.30pm kick off at EIS Sheffield.
Tom Coyd's side were last in action when they toured Australia prior to the pandemic and three new faces join the ten-man squad.
Adam Rigby of Leyland Warriors, Josh Butler of Leeds Rhinos and Rob Hawkins of the Halifax Panthers, the reigning Young Wheelchair Rugby League Player of the Year, are the three inclusions who were not involved in England’s successful tour of Australia in late 2019.
Butler is one of four Rhinos players in the squad, alongside Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell and James Simpson, and Hawkins is joined by his Panthers team-mate Wayne Boardman.
The Kent-based Argonauts are represented by Joe Coyd and Lewis King, and the team is completed by Sebastien Bechara, who was born in Nottingham and now plays in France for the Catalans Dragons.
Tom Coyd, the England Head Coach, said: “Our season and preparation is building nicely. The whole of the National Performance Squad put in a huge personal effort over the pandemic period and improved in every dimension.
"Since we came back to training together in March this year, we have made big improvements every time we get together at practice.
“Team selection was a real challenge. Our game is evolving and we are testing ourselves, pushing the boundaries of how the game has been played and evolving the sport. Players have to be flexible and be able to fit into the playing style.
“Wales will give us a great challenge and enable us measure progress. Each player who has made selection is there on merit and will get a crack in an International Test Match.”
Tom Halliwell has been appointed as captain for the game.
Now 21, he made his England debut as a 16-year-old in 2015, having discovered Wheelchair Rugby League after suffering a badly broken leg in the junior ranks at Leeds Rhinos.
"When I broke my leg in a freak training accident, I was told that I would not be the same player," Halliwell explained.
"Thanks to the coaches at Leeds, I turned my attentions to the Wheelchair game and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I was surprised when I was told I would be Captain for the game, as there are so many great players in the squad but am thrilled to be able to lead out such an amazing group of players, especially after seeing the amount of hard work everyone has put in during the Covid pandemic.
“It is always an honour to pull on an England shirt and thanks to the Head Coach leading the side against Wales will be a dream come true.”
In opposition, Wales' Jodie Boyd-Ward is set to win her 30th international cap this Saturday, against an England side that she turned out for 20 times.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on England,” she said.
"It’s a unique situation for me as I’ve spent several years competing with most of that squad including my Leeds Rhinos teammates.
"This will be the first time we will be playing on opposite sides and I’m excited to see how this plays out. I’m lucky to be part of a great Wales squad and I’m ready to give everything in the upcoming game and be part of making history with the rest of my team.
“Following the England game, I’m hoping to break into that final 10 for the World Cup. I made the big choice to switch over because I wanted to prove myself and now I have that opportunity.
England Wheelchair squad: Sebastien Bechara (Catalans Dragons), Wayne Boardman (Halifax Panthers), Josh Butler (Leeds Rhinos), Nathan Collins (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Coyd (Argonauts), Tom Halliwell (Leeds Rhinos), Rob Hawkins (Halifax Panthers), Lewis King (Argonauts), Adam Rigby (Leyland Warriors), James Simpson (Leeds Rhinos).
Wales Wheelchair squad: Richard Carver (Argonauts), Alan Caron, Andrew Higgins, Gary Preece (all Hereford Harriers), Jodie-Ann Boyd-Ward (Leeds Rhinos), Stephen Halsey, Harry Jones, Lucie Roberts, Scott Trigg-Turner, Gary Taylor, Mark Williams (all North Wales Crusaders).
- England Wheelchair vs Wales Wheelchair
- Saturday, June 26
- EIS Sheffield
- BBC iPlayer