Following the recent international test, I pick my England starting XIII:
Fullback – Zak Hardaker
Hardaker is Super League’s form fullback. His off-field conduct has been his downfall in recent years, but he seems to have turned over a new leaf at Castleford and can’t be overlooked.
Wingers – Ryan Hall & Jermaine McGillvary
Hall is Mr. Dependant when it comes to international duty and his record speaks for itself, with 32 tries in 32 games for England. McGillvary was a late bloomer onto the international scene, but has hit the ground running with his pace and strength posing a real threat outwide.
Centres – Kallum Watkins & Ben Currie
After a rocky couple of years, Watkins is finding his form again and is our most dangerous centre. England have struggled to find him a partner of late, but Currie possesses all of the attributes to be an ideal fit, despite naturally being a second rower.
Halves – Gareth Widdop & Luke Gale
Widdop is the first name on the team sheet and is currently enjoying a fruitful spell with St George in the NRL. Gale, on the other hand, is in the process of spearheading Castleford’s bid for the Super League title and is arguably the best player in the competition at the moment.
Props – Scott Taylor & James Graham
Taylor is a surprise pick, but he’s done enough to earn a spot after establishing himself as one of Super League’s top front rowers. Graham oozes passion for the shirt, while his leadership is a vital part of any England success.
Hooker – Josh Hodgson
Since moving to Canberra in 2015, Hodgson has gone from strength to strength. His running and handling game is superb, while he offers utility value being able to play in the back row.
Second Rowers – Elliott Whitehead & Mike McMeeken
Like Hodgson, a move to Canberra has massively enhanced Whitehead’s game and he now epitomises the modern day second rower, with his technical skills matching his physical prowess. McMeeken has a similar style and has shone for Castleford this season, dominating defences with his strong running.
Loose Forward – Sam Burgess
It’s no fluke that Burgess is seen as one of the world’s best forwards. He has size, speed and is agile enough to play anywhere in the pack. Burgess’ presence will be essential if we are to make any impact at the World Cup.