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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Aaron Bower

Shaun Wane U-turns to call up Harry Newman for new-look England

Harry Newman scores a try for Leeds against Catalans Dragons in March
Harry Newman is ‘very competitive, sometimes a little bit overly competitive’ according to England’s head coach, Shaun Wane. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Shaun Wane has called on his England side to channel the heartbreak from last year’s Rugby League World Cup with victory in their upcoming three-Test series against Tonga.

England will host Kristian Woolf’s side over the coming weeks in their first meaningful action – barring a one-sided mid-season win against France in June – since their dramatic defeat by Samoa in the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup. Wane has named a much-changed squad, with only 12 survivors from the tournament included this time around. Experienced names such as Kallum Watkins and Michael McIlorum are among those who featured in the World Cup but are not included, while Sam Tomkins has now retired following last week’s Super League Grand Final.

Wane wants his new-look side, which is set to include debutants Harry Newman and Mikey Lewis in this Sunday’s series opener at St Helens, to start the road to the next World Cup in 2026 by proving they have heeded the lessons of last year’s failure. “We don’t sit around patting ourselves on the backs, ever,” Wane said. “We fell short at the World Cup, we need to improve and we need to improve to beat a talented Tongan team. We fell short last year, but we’ve learned a lot of lessons.”

Wane said he only finalised his squad for the series in the early hours of Tuesday morning owing to a series of injury withdrawals. With frontline centres Herbie Farnworth and Jake Wardle unavailable, it has left the door ajar for Leeds centre Newman to make his Test debut. That is despite Wane admitting only last month he would not pick Newman due to concerns over his attitude.

The coach has told 23-year-old Newman, undoubtedly one of the most talented players in Super League, to seize his unexpected opportunity. “He’s been honest with me and I’ve been honest with him,” Wane said. We all know what a talent Harry is – he can play. He’s very competitive, but sometimes a little bit overly competitive. Hopefully we’ve sorted him out and we’ll see the best of Harry in this three-Test series. I’m very positive that he’s going to turn the corner and Leeds will get a better player back.”

Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves), John Bateman (Wests Tigers), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark, Ben Currie (both Warrington Wolves), Tyler Dupree, Liam Farrell (both Wigan Warriors), Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants), Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons), Toby King (Wigan Warriors), Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees (both St Helens), Mikey Lewis (Hull KR), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons), Robbie Mulhern (Leigh Leopards), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters), Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Jack Welsby (St Helens), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), George Williams (Warrington Wolves), Dom Young (Newcastle Knights)

Wane will go into Sunday’s opener without his captain George Williams, who is suspended and admitted he is yet to decide on a replacement for the Warrington half-back. Wigan’s Harry Smith is likely to partner Lewis in the halves, with the latter winning his first international cap following a fine season at club level with Hull KR.

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