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

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

Up to 15 players could earn their first cap in the fixture, as Wayne is focused on building a young squad capable of moving on from last year’s semi-final heartbreak at the next tournament in France in 2025.

Jack Welsby, George Williams and Kai Pierce-Paul are the only players to have played for England last year, while Warrington second-row forward Ben Currie – who played at the 2017 World Cup – has been recalled to the squad.

, Ready to face @FFRXIII.

, #EnglandRL head coach Shaun Wayne has named a new-look 19-player squad for Saturday’s mid-season international at @WarringtonRLFC …

— England Rugby League (@England_RL) April 25, 2023

Head coach Wayne said: “It was always my intention to pick a young team for this mid-season game and I’m really pleased with the final 19 I’ve selected.

“All these players have been selected on the basis of their form in the Betfred Super League and keeping in mind the next Rugby League World Cup to be held in France in 2025.

“I am excited to see how some of these players progress on the international stage and it is a great privilege to be able to be given the opportunity to represent our country.”

Warrington have been rewarded for their fine start to the Betfred Super League season with seven players in the squad, as Williams and Curry are joined by Matty Ashton, James Harrison, Matty Nicholson, Josh Thewlis and Danny Walker.

Six Wigan players have been named, with Pearce-Paul joining the likes of Ethan Howard, Toby King – Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies and Jake Wardle – who played for Ireland at last year’s World Cup.

England recorded a 42–18 victory over France in the second round of their World Cup campaign in Bolton in October.

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