RL Today: Williams on NRL rumours, England series close & fake expansion
It’s been a busy day in rugby league, as England coach Shaun Wane has held his first press conference since re-signing as national team coach.
Wane on players and Tonga series
There’s just a month until England are back in action when take on France in a spring international at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Regular meetings between the two sides is believed to be part of IMG’s re-imagining rugby league proposals.
It will provide a chance for plenty of young players to stake their claim for a place in Wane’s side.
Wane referenced several Leeds players in his press conference, including departing hooker Kruise Leeming, whose departure from Headingley was confirmed by Rohan Smith.
Kruise Leeming still in England thoughts despite uncertainty over his future
But the news most people are desperately waiting for is confirmation on England’s activity in the autumn.
There were concerns earlier in the week when reports Down Under hinted that a Four Nations tournament was being lined up by the NRL without England.
That would include Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, who have been in discussions with the RFL for several weeks about coming to the UK this autumn.
Although they weren’t in a position to confirm that the Tonga series would definitely go ahead, it is rated as “more than likely” to happen.
Williams grabbing the headlines
The Warrington half-back sits top of the league table and top of the Man of Steel leaderboard.
He’s drawn much praise from coach Daryl Powell, and has now been linked with a return to the NRL.
Appearing live on Sky Sports, he was directly asked about a possible move back Down Under – and though he was relatively coy after being put on the spot by host Jenna Brooks, he didn’t write off a return.
George Williams keeping options open over NRL return
Coach hails ‘toughest half-back he’s ever seen’ playing ‘phenomenal’ rugby league
Fake expansion will kill the game!
Keighley’s latest grumble about the recently announced proposals from IMG has come out today, and they have slammed ‘fake expansion’ and also the RFL and IMG for not sending an official to their derby victory over Bradford.
A spokesperson said: “We believe fake expansion, spreadsheet grading, and arrogant elitism will kill the sport.”
READ MORE: ‘Fake expansion’ and ‘spreadsheet grading’ will ‘kill’ rugby league
Injuries blows create opportunity
Salford coach Paul Rowley has confirmed that star centre Tim Lafai will be out for months through injury, and hooker Amir Bourouh will join him on the sidelines.
That promises to stretch the Red Devils’ resources in terms of squad depths in the coming weeks, though they will welcome back Andrew Dixon.
For St Helens though, injuries create opportunities – and youngster George Delaney is in line to feature against Wakefield.
The 19-year-old has been named in the 21-man squad and could deputise for Agnatius Paasi and Dan Norman.
Sione Mata’utia is also sidelined due to concussion protocols.
Adding the extras
The Good Friday derby between Oldham and Rochdale will now kick-off at 7.30pm.
Meanwhile, Leeds boss Rohan Smith has confirmed that prop forward Mikolaj Oledzki will make his first appearance of the season this Friday against Hull KR.
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