Rugby League: England name inexperienced squad to face France

John Bateman with ball in hand
John Bateman will captain England on 23 October

England have named eight uncapped players in an inexperienced side for their autumn international against France on Saturday, 23 October.

Wigan Warriors' second-row John Bateman is the most capped player with just 16 for the match in Perpignan.

The match is being shown on the BBC and is part of a double header with England's women also playing France.

"There's a very positive mood in the camp, a great camaraderie," said head coach Shane Wane.

"The lads have trained well and we're ready to go. We have some outstanding leaders in the team, including John Bateman who'll be captain.

"I've known John since he was a kid, I trust him, I know what he's capable of and he's strong under pressure. And we have other strong leaders too, like Jonny Lomax in the halves and Mike Cooper in the front row."

Jordan Abdull, Tom Davies, Niall Evalds, Morgan Knowles, Kruise Leeming, Paul McShane, Mikolaj Oledzki and Joe Philbin are all set to make their international debuts in the match.

Wane said the fixture would be an opportunity for the players to "put down a marker" with the World Cup scheduled to take place next year. The event, due to be held in 2021, was postponed after Australia and New Zealand pulled out because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Some of them haven't featured in an England set up before and I'm really excited for them," added Wane.

"Representing your country is a dream and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do in an England shirt."

The men's match will be shown on BBC One from 14:30 BST.

The women's game, which kicks off at 12:00 and will also be at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan, will be the first England Women's rugby league international to be shown on terrestrial television.

Both Tests will be played on the day that the Rugby League World Cup 2021 was due to kick off in Newcastle.

England men's squad

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)