England announce Academy Squad
England have announced their 20 man Academy squad for the upcoming series against the touring Australian Schoolboy’s which will see the sides clash in two Test matches at Craven Park, Barrow (Saturday December 4) and The Jungle, Castleford (Friday December 10)
The squad features seven academy players from 2010 Engage Super League champions Wigan Warriors, five from 2010 Challenge Cup winners Warrington Wolves, two from Castleford Tigers, including England Academy captain Adam Milner, two from Bradford Bulls along with a sole representative from Hull FC, Harlequins RL, St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.
The Australian Squad is sure to consist of several future NRL and International stars, with the likes of Greg Inglis, Brad Fittler and Danny Buderus just a few of the names previously seen on the Schoolboy’s team sheet, but England Academy Head coach Dave Elliott is looking forward to what promises to be a tough series and remains confident that there is equally as much quality in the England Academy ranks, with the likes of current England Captain James Graham, Sam Burgess and Sean O’Loughlin having represented the Academy side in recent years.
“We’ll expect what we always expect from Australia”, said Elliott. “They’re going to bring over some big, strong, athletic lads who’ll have plenty of experience from playing Toyota Cup rugby Down Under and it will be a tough battle for us as usual.
“But I’m confident that we’ve got a bunch of really talented players to chose from. Several of our squad have already got first grade Super League experience which is invaluable for them and there are also some very exciting and promising young players in the squad and that combination should provide us with a team capable of putting in some really good performances.”
2010’s two silverware winning sides Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves have provided the bulk of the squad, providing 12 of the 20 squad members combined and Elliott believes it is a sign of the great work being done by all sides within the academy system this year.
“Wigan and Warrington have been the outstanding teams in the academy level competitions this season,” said Elliott. “What’s been really good to see is that many of the teams in the league have been playing under 18 players in the under 20’s competitions, which is giving the younger lads that extra test and extra experience.
“All the clubs are doing a great job of developing young players and they have been able to bring players on at their natural progression rate. There will always be players who can adapt and progress quicker than others and clubs have done a good job at identifying each players needs this year.”
While the Australian side will no doubt be full of skilled players, the prospect of playing a Test game during the British winter is likely to be an experience many of the Schoolboy’s have never previously experienced and Elliott believes that could be an advantage for the English side.
“It’s always nice playing at places such as The Galpharm or DW stadium,” said Elliott. “But we thought it would be good for our guys to get Test match experience in different venues. Castleford’s ground creates a great atmosphere and Barrow especially will be a test of elements as well as a test of skills and it will be great to see a Test game played in Cumbria, but with the games being played in December, the conditions could prove tough for the Australian’s and we’ll have to exploit that.”
England Academy Squad to face Australian Schoolboys:
Danny Bridge (Wigan Warriors)Greg Burke (Wigan Warriors)Ben Evans (Warrington Wolves)Rhys Evans (Warrington Wolves)Carl Foster (St Helens)Jack Hughes (Wigan Warriors)Ryan King (Wigan Warriors)Olsi Krasniqi (Harlequins RL)James Laithwaite (Warrington Wolves)Reece Lyne (Hull FC)Adam Milner (Castleford Tigers) Captain Adam O’Brien (Bradford Bulls)Gareth O’Brien (Warrington Wolves)Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors)Matthew Russell (Wigan Warriors)Matthew Sarsfield (Wigan Warriors)Ryan Shaw (Warrington Wolves)Cain Southernwood (Bradford Bulls)Jared Stewart (Leeds Rhinos)Jordan Thompson (Castleford Tigers)