George Williams one of three players retained in England squad to face France

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Only three players who featured in England’s World Cup campaign have been named in Shaun Wane’s 19-strong squad for Saturday’s mid-season international against France in Warrington.

As many as 15 players could earn their first caps in the fixture, as Wane refocuses on building a young squad capable of going beyond last year’s semi-final heartbreak at the next tournament in France in 2025.

Jack Welsby, George Williams and Kai Pearce-Paul are the only survivors who featured for England last year, while Warrington second row Ben Currie – who played in the 2017 World Cup – has been recalled to the squad.

Head coach Wane said: “It was always my intention to pick a young squad for this mid-season game and I am really happy with the final 19 I’ve selected.

“All of these players have been picked based on their form in the Betfred Super League and with an eye on the next Rugby League World Cup in France in 2025.

“I am excited to see how some of these lads go on the international stage and it’s a massive privilege to be able to give them the opportunity to represent our country.”

Hull FC v Wigan Warriors – Betfred Super League – KCOM Stadium
Wigan’s Morgan Smithies is among a host of potential debutants (Martin Rickett/PA)

Six Wigan players are named with Pearce-Paul joined by Ethan Havard, Toby King – who played for Ireland in last year’s World Cup – Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies and Jake Wardle.

England cruised to a 42-18 win over France in the second round of their World Cup campaign in Bolton in October.

Australia-bound duo Georgia Roche and Hollie-Mae Dodd have both made the 19-player England women’s squad for their match against France in the first part of the double-header.

Roche and Dodd became the first English women to sign professional rugby league contracts with clubs in Australia ahead of the forthcoming NRLW season.

New head coach Stuart Barrow has named eight St Helens players in his squad, which will be captained for the first time by Jodie Cunningham.

England men’s squad: Matty Ashton, Ben Currie (both Warrington), Tyler Dupree (Salford), Ash Handley (Leeds), James Harrison (Warrington), Ethan Havard (Wigan), Tom Holroyd (Leeds), Toby King (Wigan), Mikey Lewis, Jez Litten (both Hull KR), Matty Nicholson (Warrington), Kai Pearce-Paul, Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies (all Wigan), Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker (both Warrington), Jake Wardle (Wigan), Jack Welsby (St Helens), George Williams (Warrington).

England women’s squad: Savannah Andrade (York), Keara Bennett (Leeds), Leah Burke, Jodie Cunningham (C) (both St Helens), Hollie-Mae Dodd, Grace Field (both York), Amy Hardcastle (Leeds), Zoe Harris, Shona Hoyle, Tara Jones (all St Helens), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan), Eboni Partington (St Helens), Sinead Peach, Tara-Jane Stanley, Tamzin Renouf (all York), Georgia Roche (Leeds), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Vicky Whitfield (St Helens), Olivia Wood (York)

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