Rugby League

Rugby League World Cup: Sky Sports pundits’ England Power Rankings

With the Rugby League World Cup on the horizon come the end of the NRL and Super League seasons, there will be increased debate and discussion around who makes England’s 24-man squad over the coming months.

As England head coach Shaun Wane deliberates and contemplates who will represent the Three Lions this autumn – so will our Sky Sports rugby league pundits.

Throughout the year, Sky Sports experts Terry O’Connor, Barrie McDermott, Jon Wells and Phil Clarke will each be picking their 24-man squad after every five Super League rounds to form an England power rankings – indicating which players are in the strong contention for international honours come October 23.

The power rankings will recognise which players are performing consistently throughout the season and identify those players who have peaked and troughed over the course of the year.

Players will each be awarded one point for every pundits’ 24-man squad they are named in throughout the season, with each pundit making seven squad selections between now and the World Cup – meaning a total of 28 points are up for grabs.

Following round one of the NRL season and before the Super League season kicks-off on March 26, live on Sky Sports, our four experts submitted their first selections – here’s a look at who made their England squad…

Terry O’Connor

J Bateman, L Farrell, O Gildart, Z Hardaker (all Wigan Warriors), T Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), D Clark, T King, J Philbin, S Ratchford (all Warrington Wolves), J Connor (Hull FC), L Gale, A Handley (both Leeds Rhinos), T Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), M Knowles, J Lomax, T Makinson, M Percival, A Walmsley (all St Helens), P McShane, L Watts (both Castleford Tigers), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), E Whitehead, G Williams (both Canberra Raiders).

Barrie McDermott

J Bateman, L Farrell, O Gildart, Z Hardaker (all Wigan Warriors), D Clark, T King (both Warrington Wolves), J Cator (Hull FC), L Gale, A Handley, M Oledzki (all Leeds Rhinos), T Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), J Bentley, M Knowles, M Lees, J Lomax, T Makinson, A Walmsley, J Roby (all St Helens), P McShane (Castleford Tigers), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants), E Whitehead, G Williams (both Canberra Raiders).


St Helens vs Salford Red Devils

March 26, 2021, 5:30pm

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Leigh Centurions vs Wigan Warriors

March 26, 2021, 8:00pm

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Jon Wells

J Bateman, L Farrell (both Wigan Warriors), D Clark, M Cooper, T King, J Philbin (all Warrington Wolves), H Farnworth (Brisbane Broncos), J Connor (Hull FC), L Gale, A Handley, L Sutcliffe (all Leeds Rhinos), J Bentley, J Lomax, T Makinson, M Percival, A Walmsley (all St Helens), N Evalds, P McShane, J Trueman, L Watts (Castleford Tigers), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), E Whitehead, G Williams (both Canberra Raiders).

Phil Clarke

J Bateman, L Farrell, O Gildart, Z Hardaker, J Hastings (all Wigan Warriors), D Clark, M Cooper, S Ratchford (all Warrington Wolves), T Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), J McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), J Connor (Hull FC), T Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), M Knowles, J Lomax, T Makinson, M Percival, A Walmsley (all St Helens), P McShane, L Watts (both Castleford Tigers), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), R Sutton, E Whitehead, G Williams (all Canberra Raiders).

Reigning Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Paul McShane headlines the selections with the Castleford Tigers hooker the only non-capped player to receive four votes from our panel of experts – his performances for over the last few seasons seemingly putting him firmly into England contention.

Last season’s Super League top try-scorer Ash Handley and Castleford prop Liam Watts both picked up three points – despite Watts being dropped from Shaun Wane’s squad in November last year.

Two other players that proved popular choices among our pundits were Warrington Wolves centre Toby King and St Helens’ Cumbrian back-rower Morgan Knowles – who have represented Ireland and Wales respectively in the past – they also pick up three points out of a possible four.

Elsewhere, Saints’ James Bentley notched two points following an impressive breakthrough season in 2020 alongside Warrington prop Mike Cooper, who last appeared for England back in 2016.

Players who failed to make the most recent England squad, but received a point from our panel are Joe Cator, Jake Wardle, Matty Lees, Mikolaj Oledzki and 2019 Man of Steel Jackson Hastings.

Four points

A Walmsley, J Lomax, T Makinson (all St Helens), J Bateman, L Farrell (both Wigan Warriors), E Whitehead, G Williams (both Canberra Raiders), P McShane (Castleford Tigers), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), D Clark (Warrington Wolves).

Three points

Z Hardaker, O Gildart (both Wigan Warriors), L Gale, A Handley (both Leeds Rhinos), T King (Warrington Wolves), M Knowles, M Percival (both St Helens), T Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity) L Watts (Castleford Tigers), J Connor (Hull FC).

Super League Preview Show 2021

March 23, 2021, 6:30pm

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Two points

S Ratchford, J Philbin, M Cooper (all Warrington Wolves), J Bentley (St Helens), T Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs).

One point

J Cator (Hull FC), J Hastings (Wigan Warriors), J McGillvary, Jake Wardle (both Huddersfield Giants), H Farnworth (Brisbane Broncos), J Roby, M Lees (both St Helens), N Evalds (Castleford Tigers), M Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos).

Our experts will pick their second 24-man England squad following the conclusion of the Round 5 fixtures on May 2.

With plenty of rugby league football to be played between now and October, there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns as we head ever closer to the Rugby League World Cup. Only 24 men can earn the right to represent their country in the competition and we’ll be following all those in contention over the course of the season on Sky Sports.

Agree or disagree with our expert’s choices? Get involved with the debate on our Twitter page @SkySportsRL

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