ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara has thrown the door open for Warriors youngster George WIlliams to fight for a place in the England team.
The 20-year-old Wigan stand-off earned his England call-up last Sunday after being named Super League’s Young Player of the Year following his debut season.
George Williams had a sensational second half of the season and became a real threat in our competitionSteve McNamara
And McNamara says he wants to have a look Williams, as well as the other halves in his 24-man squad, in training ahead of England’s Autumn International Series against New Zealand – which they will warm-up for with a clash against France on October 24.
“Luke Gale has had a very good season for Castleford – they are not one of the big four teams but he managed to hold his hands up and steer that team around – and George Williams had a sensational second half of the season and became a real threat in our competition,” the England coach said.
“Gareth Widdop has become the mainstay of our team but we have four people who can play in those positions and I want to see them in camp.”
Wigan half-back Matty Smith is also in the 24-man squad.
Widdop has welcomed the competition for half-back places as he prepares to win his 12th England cap against France.
The Halifax-born St George Illawarra stand-off and Wigan scrum-half Smith were the only specialist half-backs in coach Steve McNamara’s 24-man squad for the 2014 Four Nations Series and they started all three matches against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s quite hard to follow the games over there at times,” said Widdop.
“They’re on at silly o’clock in the morning and not all the games are shown.
“There’s a few debutants this year so it’s going to be good.
“ It makes you train harder and compete harder so whatever Steve decides to go with I’m sure he’ll make the right decision.”
The wheel is set to turn full circle for Widdop, who made his Test debut against France at Leigh Sports Village five years ago, and is relishing the chance to face them again.
“It brings back some good memories,”he said.
“It’s huge any time you get the chance to represent your country.”
“We’ve been close the last few years, we just haven’t quite got there. It’s great that we’re playing at home in front of our own fans.
“The atmosphere is obviously a lot different to over there.