A TOTAL of eight of Wigan’s youngsters have been named in the 20-man England academy squad.
Ben Austin, Joe Burgess, Oliver Gildart, Ryan Hampshire, Rob Lever, Ryan Sutton, Lewis Tierney and George Williams have all been selected.
England Academy coach John Winder, who is also Head of Youth at Wigan, believes that junior Rugby League in England is thriving and that his squad can benefit from a number of players having already played in Super League.
“Whenever you select a national team it is a tough decision,” said Winder. “We have some great talent and there are good players who miss out now but they only miss out on this squad, for these Tests. The door is always open.
“One of the big strengths of the England programme is that we have players coming in who have Super League experience. George Williams, for example, at Wigan, has already played in Super League.”
The Academy will attend a training camp in South Wales, starting on Friday October 11, before they play Wales Academy on Sunday October 13 and Friday October 18, with both matches to be played at Taffs Wells RFC near Cardiff.
“In all England environments it is about creating a learning environment,” added Winder. “We have a nine-day camp now which will help with the players’ process and development.
“It definitely helps to have the England Knights as a stepping stone, there is a full pathway now for the players from youth level to the Knights and eventually to the full senior squad.
“There is a really good mix of players here in this squad. We have players who have been in the England programme for the last couple of years and also we have some new fresh faces.
“The likes of Williams and Ryan Hampshire from Wigan Warriors have been around for a while now and we have new players like Tyler Dickinson from Huddersfield Giants coming in. It is a really good opportunity to have a look at all of these players together.”