Wildcats Academy duo Liam Paisley and Will Dagger have been named in the England Youth team to face France in the first test on Friday evening.
Paisley has been named at centre and Dagger, still only classed as an under 15′s player and therefore playing up a year, will play on the opposite wing.
England Youth coach Stu Barrow has hailed the strength of his squad after having to make some tough selection decisions for the opening Test against France in Entraigues sur Sorgue tomorrow (7.00pm).
The touring party of 35 players had to be narrowed down to a 17-man squad for the opening match of the three-game tour at Stage Georges Moreau and Barrow has been impressed with his side’s preparations.
“We have 33 of the best youth players in the country with us here and it was a tough enough decision to select the right match 17,” said Barrow.
“We have a really nice training facility here in Avignon. We have had five training sessions together and now we are looking forward to the first Test.
“All the players have performed excellently and now the decision of who starts the game is a very tough one.
“There is an opportunity for everyone whilst we are here though. We have made it clear to the players that there is an opportunity for everyone in the second Test on Tuesday.”
Two of the matchday 17 hail from the RFL Regional Academy in Cumbria, and Barrow believes that it is a testament to Rugby League’s governing body for producing international-quality young players from their Academies.
“It is great to see the RFL Academies producing international-standard players in Jack Gordon and Conor Fitzsimmons,” said Barrow. “It is a ringing endorsement for the RFL.
“There is a really high standard of Rugby League at youth level in England at the minute, and there is a good link-up between the community clubs and Super League clubs.”
Barrow also feels that the experience of international Rugby League is a priceless one for England’s youngsters, who, if they progress to the senior set-up, will not only have the experience attending training camps but also the feeling of representing their country.
“The camp environment is the perfect place to bring the squad together,” said Barrow. “They come into the camp as individuals and leave as a group.
“International Rugby League is the highest standard, so if some of these players go on to represent England at senior international level, they will have their grounding in representative sides like this.”
The England Youth squad to face France Youth in the first Test at Stage Georges Moreau, Entraigues sur Sorgue, is as follows (community club and professional club shown in brackets):
Lewis Heckford (Sanley Rangers, Wigan Warriors)
Jack Fox (Latchford Albion, Warrington Wolves)
Liam Paisley (Dalton, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
Ryan Jones (Oulton Raiders, Leeds Rhinos)
Will Dagger (Castleford Panthers, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
Craig Mullins (Blackbrook, Wigan Warriors)
Morgan Smith (Sanley Rangers, Leeds Rhinos)
Matthew English (Stanley Rangers, Huddersfield Giants)
Josh Ganson (Blackbrook, St Helens)
Connor Sunderland (Normanton Knights, Leeds Rhinos)
Jack Wells (Folly Lane, Wigan Warriors)
Jordan Lane (West Hull, Hull FC)
Cameron Smith (Castleford Panthers, Leeds Rhinos)
Jack Gordon (Dalton, Cumbria RPDC)
Max Dudley (Wigan St Judes, Wigan Warriors)
Charlie Weaver (Skirlaugh, Hull FC)
Conor Fitzsimmons (Seaton, Cumbria RPDC)
England Youth’s tour of France schedule is as follows:
Friday April 18 (Good Friday), Stage Georges Moreau, Entraigues sur Sorgue (7.00pm)
Game 2 (non-Test, versus a President’s XIII)
Monday April 21 (Easter Monday), Stade Viton, avenue de Viton, 84400 Apt (4.00pm)
Tuesday April 22, Complexe Léo Lagrange, Toulon (7.00pm)