Handley named in England Nines squad

James Graham will lead England in the Downer World Cup Nines in Sydney later this month – and is one of 11 members of the 16-strong squad who has also been selected for the four-match Great Britain tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea that follows.

For the first time, England will field Men’s and Women’s teams in the same Nines tournament, which will be played at the new Bankwest Stadium on October 18 and 19, and covered extensively by Sky Sports.

England’s Men have been drawn in a qualifying group with Wales, France and Lebanon, with only the winners progressing to the semi finals.

England Women, who announced a 16-strong squad in August, will play in a four-team tournament with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with the top two in the qualifying group going straight to the final.

Graham, the 34-year-old St George Illawarra Dragons prop who won five Great Britain caps in 2006-7 and first captained England in 2010, is joined in the Nines squad by five other Australia-based players: his Dragons team-mate Gareth Widdop, who will join Warrington next season; Elliott Whitehead and Ryan Sutton of Canberra Raiders; the Sydney Roosters wing Ryan Hall; and the South Sydney prop Tom Burgess.

Widdop, Whitehead, Hall and Burgess have also been selected for the Great Britain tour.

The 10 players based in the Betfred Super League in the Nines squad come from eight clubs, including Wigan’s George Williams, who has been selected following the Warriors’ defeat by Salford in Friday night’s semi final. Players from the Grand Finalists, Salford and St Helens, were not considered, as the squad will fly to Sydney next Saturday morning.

There are two players from Warrington Wolves – Daryl Clark and Jack Hughes; two from Castleford Tigers – Jake Trueman and Liam Watts; Jermaine McGillvary from Huddersfield Giants; Sam Tomkins from the Catalans Dragons; Reece Lyne from Wakefield Trinity; Ash Handley from Leeds Rhinos; and Jake Connor from Hull FC.

Clark, Hughes, Trueman, McGillvary, Williams and Connor have also been selected for the Great Britain tour.

Tomkins, Lyne, Handley and Watts have been placed on standby, with the full 24-man touring party to be announced on Monday week, October 14, after the Betfred Super League Grand Final.

A number of other players, including the Canberra pair of John Bateman and Josh Hodgson, and Warrington’s stand-off Blake Austin, were not considered for the Nines because of injury, but are expected to be available for the Great Britain tour.

A Rights Free image of Jermaine McGillvary and Emily Rudge wearing the new England men’s and women’s jerseys produced by Hummel for the Downer World Cup Nines is attached. A limited number of these jerseys are available for purchase from https://shop.rugby-league.com/

England Men squad for Downer World Cup Nines

James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons, captain), Tom Burgess (South Sydney), Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves), Jake Connor (Hull FC), Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos), Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Ryan Sutton (Canberra Raiders), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers), Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons), George Williams (Wigan Warriors).

Full details of the Downer World Cup Nines, including the England Women squad – https://www.rugby-league.com/article/55444/england-to-kick-off-womens-world-cup-nines-against-png-orchids