What kind of England side the Tonga coach is expecting to face this autumn

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Shaun Wane and Kristian Woolf England v Tonga SWpix Credit: Alamy
Shaun Wane and Kristian Woolf England v Tonga SWpix Credit: Alamy

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is unsure of what kind of team England coach Shaun Wane will field this autumn but knows one thing for certain: it’ll be strong.

Tonga will become the first Pacific Island nation to tour England in a three-match test series this autumn, with games confirmed for St Helens, Leeds and Huddersfield.

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Wane handed out England debuts to 13 players in their 64-0 demolition of France last week. It was a young side that Wane selected but the squad is likely to change this autumn, with the NRL-based players being available for selection as well as a couple of key men being back from injury.

When asked about what kind of England team he is expecting, Woolf replied: “I’m not sure. I actually got up and watched that (France) game.

“There were a lot of young guys there and a lot of debutants, so it was great to see how some of those guys performed. Obviously the scoreline and the performance was something they can be really proud of and it is great to see that from some of those young blokes.

“I’m not quite sure what an English team would look like at the end of the year, some of those young guys have put their hands up and like guys in our competition (NRL), they are going to have to put their hands up through the course of the season. I’ve got no doubt that some of those guys will.

“I also know that guys like Tommy Makinson and Alex Walmsley – those kinds of players – are tried and tested. They are world class, experienced, international players. They’re guys that you want to see in the opposition because you know they are going to challenge your players and that’s what international rugby league is about.”

Some old, some new for England?

Wane has previously spoken about wanting to build for the 2025 World Cup in France, whilst also insisting that his team will be picked on merit.

Woolf added: “It is going to be an interesting team. I expect there’s going to be some new and young faces but I’d certainly expect some of the guys that are proven at that level are going to be there as well.

“What I do know is that it’s going to be a really strong England team. Guys like Jack Welsby and George Williams are world class players, they’ll be really strong in any team and they’ll be a real threat to any team.

“I also know that we’re going to put together a really strong team and if we’re healthy, we get the opportunity to be a bit stronger than what we named for the World Cup as well and it’ll be very similar for the World Cup. We think we can play a lot better and prepare a lot better and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.

“It is a test series that everyone can be really excited about because there are two world class teams playing each other three times and I’ll expect three really tight and exciting games to watch.”

Tickets now on sale

The Rugby Football League have confirmed that tickets are now on sale for this autumn’s test series as they look to build on last year’s home World Cup.

Tickets are on sale now at eticketing.co.uk/rugbyleague from £25 adults and £12.50 Under-16s. A three-match bundle is also available from £52.50 Adults and £26.25 Under-16s.

The RFL say the series broadcasting and naming rights will be announced in due course.

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