Who should be the next England captain?

Our 18th Man columnists discuss the England captaincy and the prospect of returning to watch matches...

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 10:36 am

Who should be the next England captain?

Andy Grundy: There are a few players that come to mind and who I have no doubt would do a great job. Yet, to choose one, I would go with James Roby

Whilst not a Wigan player, I am sure any rugby league fan would find it hard to argue against the Saint Helens captain leading England.

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Roby is now 35 and a player who has played more than 460 games for this home-town club since making his debut against Widnes way back in March 2004.

And in a recent interview he stated, “I’m more motivated and positive now than I was 10 years ago because I am coming to the end of my career and potentially this could be my last one”.

A statement that says it all really.

To finish, I can also see some fantastic leadership qualities and maturity in Zak Hardaker coming to the foe last season and in particular this season.

With this in mind, I think he too could one day soon make a great captain and who knows maybe a potential candidate for Shaun Wane’s selection for the England VC?

Jon Lyon: It’s a tough pick because looking at the squad it’s hard to say 100 per cent who will definitely be in the team.

For once we have quite a bit of depth across all positions. From the squad selected so far I’d probably pick Sam Tomkins, but on form would he get in the team ahead of Hardaker?

My second choice would probably be James Roby but again, will he definitely play ahead of Daryl Clark, Paul McShane and Josh Hodgson?

There doesn’t seem to be a stand out forward leader of the ilk of Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Burgess or Jamie Peacock.

I suppose John Bateman would be the nearest to a certain first choice but it’s strange having someone captain their country when they don’t captain their club.

No matter who is chosen, Shaun Wane will have the team fully revved up when it matters, so we shouldn’t need to rely on one individual to spur us on.

Ste Ford: Haven’t given this much thought recently so an interesting question. A few places are still up for grabs but there are only a few guys who I think are almost guaranteed a starting place and will play the full 80 minutes, namely Tomkins and Bateman. Of the two I suspect that Bateman will get the nod

Darren Wrudd: Having studied the list carefully and as best as I can, trying not to look through Cherry and White glasses, I simply cannot see beyond Liam Farrell. We have some real talent in this squad and yet I could not think of a more consistent and more respected player in the whole bunch.

Robert Kenyon: I'd give it to Sam Tomkins, he's vastly experienced, he's clever and he's a winner. The other players will respect him and he will have a point to prove still against the Australians.

Limited crowds may be back at rugby league games within weeks. What, specifically, have you missed the most?

Andy Grundy: I think I speak for all fans in saying that there is no better feeling than being in a ground watching live rugby league.

The atmosphere can be electric, the feeling of excitement and pre-match build up is also something that becomes a part of the routine and something that fans fully engage in, which starts a good few days before the actual event. Seeing the players up close playing and being vocally involved makes fans feel that they are also playing a real part as an ‘18th Man’, rather than watching on TV.

Also, seeing what often becomes the familiar faces of other fans in attendance, particularly at home games, also adds to the experience. It’s not a cliche when we say that rugby league is not just a game, it really is in our blood!

Oh, and not to forget, there’s that added advantage of a half time purchase of a famous Wigan meat pie, which most certainly makes the list!

Jon Lyon: Everything! The anticipation all week, the drive to the ground with my dad, arguing over the team and listening to radio stations previewing non-league football instead of giving rugby league five minutes of airtime. The walk to the ground and the banter with home and away fans on the way and in the bars.

A pie and a pint.

Meeting friends again that we haven’t seen for well over a year now. Booing the opponents and the referee as they come out, just for the sake of it, the music as the teams come out, screaming myself hoarse in the first five minutes, cursing the refereeing decisions and then finding out they were right when I watch the match back at home.

Most of all Wigan scoring and winning, the pure joy that brings, seeing kids nearby almost too young to comprehend what is going on cheering just for the sake and because their mums and dads are.

We were all that kid once. It’s a family sport and that’s what is best about it.

Ste Ford: A few pints before and after the match pontificating about rugby and the world at large.

Darren Wrudd: I suppose on game day, my biggest thrill is to be among all the other Wigan fans and friends with hope that our team will triumph.

That feeling of joint expectation, the shouts of joy and encouragement mixed with the jeers and wind ups to the opposition (which all too often feels like the referee too), it all adds up to the unique atmosphere leading up to the spectacle.

The squad must feel it too as it can be electric at times. I can’t wait to be in there again and hope that we get a proper chance soon as it would be great to add my voice to the Cherry and White faithful once more.

Robert Kenyon: I've missed the walk to the stadium with fans walking the same direction with the same anticipation thinking the same thing, walking past opposition fans kind of glad there are other rugby league fans making the trip to Wigan, the first pint or two, watching the warm up and the game itself but being surrounded by thousands of like minded people with one goal in mind, cheering on Wigan.