England desire will drive forwards, says Wane

John Bateman has been in excellent form
John Bateman has been in excellent form

Shaun Wane expect the battle of the back-rowers to provide an intriguing sub-plot in Friday’s Super 8s showdown at Warrington.

He believes the looming Four Nations to ramp up performances of all players chasing England spots.

But it is only in the second-row where Wigan and Warrington are expected to have players directly in competition with one another for Test spots. Liam Farrell and John Bateman are set to start for Wigan, with Ben Currie in the Wolves’ ranks – three players widely tipped to be in Wayne Bennett’s plans.

And Wane said: “They’ll all be thinking about trying to get in the England side, and trying to do all they can.

“I’ve no doubts the Four Nations will be on their minds, whether they admit it or not, and all three of those players are quality, quality forwards.

“Ben’s had a terrific season for Warrington, John has been incredible for us and Faz is coming back into some really good form after a long injury lay-off.

“From an English point of view, it’s exciting we’ve got so many quality back-rowers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they go.”

Canberra’s Elliott Whitehead starred in the series win against New Zealand last year and is expected to again be in the frame after a strong campaign in the NRL.

That would leave one other starting position and a possible bench spot for this autumn series which also involves Australia, New Zealand and Scotland.

Farrell has established himself as a regular left-side second-rower for England in the last two years, Bateman covered at centre against the Kiwis while highly-rated Currie has yet to win his first cap, despite being in the England squad last season.

Warrington also have ex-Warriors forward Jack Hughes in the second-row, as well as Wiganers Chris Hill, Matty Russell, Stefan Ratchford and Brad Dwyer.

Wane, meanwhile, congratulated Leigh Centurions after they secured promotion to Super League.

Neil Jukes’ outfit have won all five of their Qualifiers matches, including victories against three top-flight sides - Hull KR, Salford and Huddersfield. One of those will tumble out of the competition to make way for the newcomers.

“I’m really pleased for them,” said Wane. “Leigh’s a good rugby league town, there are some good people at that club and I’m looking forward to having another derby from next year.”