Young guns ready to fire

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NO less than eight Wigan Warriors scholarship players have earned a call-up to the 2011 England Youth squad which will see the country’s top young rugby league players play Test matches against France and Wales.

Wigan have the largest contingent in the squad of 39, with Kyle Dempsey, Oliver Gildart, Ryan Hampshire, Bradley Lawrence, Arron Lewczenko, Jake Shorrocks, Lewis Tierney and George Williams all earning the opportunity to represent their country alongside seven players from Leeds Rhinos, six from St Helens, six from Hull FC, three from Harlequins RL, three from Warrington Wolves, three from Bradford Bulls, two Castleford Tigers players and one Hull KR player.

The youth side is coached by Dave Elliott, who recently led the England Academy to a famous series victory over the Australian Schoolboys, and he is hoping for similar success with the Under-16s against European opposition in 2011.

“It’s early doors for these guys,” said Elliott.

“There are 17 who were in the squad last year and they showed some potential so it will be interesting to see how they perform 12 months down the line.

“It will also be good to see how the newcomers handle the step up from community clubs and scholarship programmes to international level and how they all progress during the season.”

England Youth will play a two-Test series against France along with proposed Tests against Wales during the 2011 season and Elliott believes the recent success of the England Academy can help spur the Youth side on.

“I’m hoping the Academy success against Australia will be a catalyst for these younger guys,” said Elliott.

“They have seen what can be achieved with hard work.

“The Academy side worked hard all season, both on and off the field, to improve themselves as players and as people.

“That is the message we want to send to the youth side – that hard work can be rewarded by playing for England and gaining international success.

“Only one member of that Academy side wasn’t on a full-time contract and that is a big incentive for the youth players.

“We’ve got systems in place to help give the players the tools to develop both mentally and physically and enable them to become better players which we hope will translate to international success come 2013 and 2017.”