Skipper Halliwell leads England Wheelchair to victory with hat trick

England's Nathan Collins in action

England Wheelchair marked their first game since late in 2019 as they defeated Wales 102-22 at EIS Sheffield with skipper Tom Halliwell, the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair player, marking his first game as captain with a hat trick of tries.

Tom Coyd’s side were last in action when they toured Australia prior to the pandemic and the coach gave three new players their debut.

Adam Rigby of Leyland Warriors, Josh Butler of Leeds Rhinos and Rob Hawkins of the Halifax Panthers, the reigning Young Wheelchair Rugby League Player of the Year, are the three inclusions who were not involved in England’s successful tour of Australia in late 2019.

Butler, who crossed for a try, was one of four Rhinos players in the squad, alongside Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell and James Simpson. Collins carried on his impressive form in the national side with a try in a performance that his head coach thought merited the Player of the Match award. The Rhinos contingent were up against club team mate Jodie-Ann Boyd-Ward in the Welsh ranks with the visitors boosted from their recent Celtic Cup win.

Skipper Tom Halliwell was appointed as captain for the game. Now 21, he made his England debut as a 16-year-old in 2015, having discovered Wheelchair Rugby League after suffering a badly broken leg in the junior ranks at Leeds Rhinos.

“When I broke my leg in a freak training accident, I was told that I would not be the same player,” Halliwell explained.

“Thanks to the coaches at Leeds, I turned my attentions to the Wheelchair game and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I was surprised when I was told I would be Captain for the game, as there are so many great players in the squad but am thrilled to be able to lead out such an amazing group of players, especially after seeing the amount of hard work everyone has put in during the Covid pandemic.

“It is always an honour to pull on an England shirt and thanks to the Head Coach leading the side against Wales will be a dream come true.”

The game was shown live on the BBC iplayer with former Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott joining Mark Wilson in the commentary team for the afternoon and the most successful coach of the Super League era was impressed with the action he saw and was letting looking forward to more when the World Cup comes round later this year. You can watch the game again on demand on the BBC iplayer.

If you enjoyed the game and want watch more Wheelchair Rugby League there is a fantastic opportunity next Saturday 3rd July from 1.50pm as Leeds Rhinos take on The Argonauts in the Challenge Cup Cup live on the BBC iplayer.

England Wheelchair squad: Sebastien Bechara (Catalans Dragons), Wayne Boardman (Halifax Panthers), Josh Butler (Leeds Rhinos), Nathan Collins (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Coyd (Argonauts), Tom Halliwell (Leeds Rhinos), Rob Hawkins (Halifax Panthers), Lewis King (Argonauts), Adam Rigby (Leyland Warriors), James Simpson (Leeds Rhinos).

Wales Wheelchair squad: Richard Carver (Argonauts), Alan Caron, Andrew Higgins, Gary Preece (all Hereford Harriers), Jodie-Ann Boyd-Ward (Leeds Rhinos), Stephen Halsey, Harry Jones, Lucie Roberts, Scott Trigg-Turner, Gary Taylor, Mark Williams (all North Wales Crusaders).