England today completed their preparations for Saturday’s international match against France in Perpignan with a final training run at Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium.
Skipper John Bateman led the Captain’s Run as Head Coach Shaun Wane, together with assistants Andy Last and Paul Wellens, put the players through their paces for one last time before kick-off tomorrow at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
England Head Coach Shaun Wane says: "I’ve been impressed with the players in training – they’ve shown real quality and intensity, and they pick things up quickly which means we can get through a lot in a session. I’ve said to them ‘we need to be enjoying this – we’re representing our great country and it doesn’t get any better’.”
Catalans Dragons’ Tom Davies and St Helens’ Morgan Knowles were on opposite sides in the Betfred Super League Grand Final earlier this month – a titanic clash that Saints edged 12-10 – but will make their full England debuts together on Davies’s home turf.
“The French fans are massively passionate” says Davies, “and are great to play in front of. Playing for England is another step up, we know what’s expected of us and touch wood we’ll put in a good performance.”
“Playing for England is the pinnacle”, adds loose-forward Morgan Knowles. “It’s what you want to do as a kid and I’m really looking forward to the game.”
Also making their full England debuts tomorrow are Jordan Abdull (Hull KR), Castleford Tigers’ Niall Evalds and Paul McShane, Kruise Leeming and Mikolaj Oledzki of Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves’ Joe Philbin.
England team: Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers), Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Jordan Abdull (Hull KR), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves), John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Capt.), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Morgan Knowles (St Helens).
Interchanges: Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves); Kruise Leeming (Leeds Rhinos); Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos); Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves)
France have injuries to Catalans Dragons forwards Julian Bousquet and Ben Garcia, but the Dragons still have 10 players in coach Laurent Frayssinous’ 20-man squad – including exciting youngsters Matthieu Laguerre and Arthur Mourgue. Toulouse Olympique, who will join the Dragons in the Betfred Super League in 2022 have nine players in the squad, among them one of the stars of their promotion-sealing win against Featherstone Rovers earlier this month – centre Mathieu Jussaume.
France versus England will be shown live on BBC TV – part of an international double-header also featuring the England Women’s team against their French counterparts. The Women’s match will be shown live on BBC2 with a midday kick-off UK-time – the first England Women’s international to be broadcast on terrestrial TV – followed by live coverage of the Men’s international on BBC1 at 2.30pm.
To celebrate England Men's and Women's matches against France this weekend, and the England Wheelchair side's test matches against France in November, England replica shirts are available for a limited time only at £25. The offer is live from now until midnight on Sunday 24 October with shirts available to buy at eliteprosports.co.uk.