Dom Young set for England debut in World Cup opener against Samoa
The 21-year-old winger Dom Young will almost certainly make his Test debut for England in Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup opener against Samoa. He is one of six uncapped players, including the NRL trio of Young, Herbie Farnworth and Victor Radley, all of whom impressed in last Friday’s non-Test win over Fiji, in Shaun Wane’s 19-man squad for the first match of the tournament.
The squad against a Samoan side rated as favourites by the bookies contains a mixture of youth and experience. It will also keep many guessing about certain aspects of the lineup at St James’ Park.
St Helens’ Jack Welsby is also in line to make his first Test appearance, with the Salford half-back Marc Sneyd and the Wigan forward Kai Pearce-Paul also included.
One clear selection dilemma for Wane has been resolved, with Young selected instead of Ryan Hall, who has scored 35 tries in 38 appearances for England. Young scored against Fiji and produced an eye-catching display.
Wane said earlier in the week he had settled on his half-back pairing for the opening game, but with Sneyd, Welsby and George Williams all in his squad, it is clear he intends on keeping Samoa guessing. Michael McIlorum is the sole hooker with Salford’s Andy Ackers, another who caught the eye against Fiji, missing out.
Sam Tomkins will captain the side in his first World Cup appearance since 2013, having being left out for the 2017 tournament in Australia and New Zealand. He is one of five players with more than 20 Test caps, the others being the South Sydney forward Tom Burgess, Huddersfield’s Chris Hill, Canberra’s Elliott Whitehead and Salford’s Kallum Watkins.
England will be without another experienced forward as Wigan’s John Bateman is serving the final game of a three-match suspension.
A crowd approaching 45,000 is expected and organisers are confident an opening-day attendance record will be set with the reigning champions, Australia, playing Fiji Saturday evening in Leeds.