England’s wheelchair rugby league team seek to right wrongs against France in Sunday’s international

England aim to lay down a marker ahead of this year’s Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup when they face reigning champions France; watch Sunday’s wheelchair international in Manchester live on Sky Sports Arena from 3pm

Last Updated: 18/06/22 10:20pm

Tom Halliwell captains England when they face France in Sunday’s wheelchair international

Tom Halliwell has backed England to right the wrongs from last year’s Test series against France when the two clash again in a wheelchair international on Sunday.

Reigning world champions France underlined that status with a 2-0 series victory over England in last November’s matches, with the sides now meeting again at Manchester Basketball Centre for a mid-season international which is live on Sky Sports.

There is every chance of the old rivals meeting again in the final of this year’s Rugby League World Cup in November and England captain Halliwell is confident his team can lay down a marker ahead of the tournament.

“We’ve been working hard on the things we didn’t do well in the two Tests and I think we’re going to put them right on Sunday,” Halliwell said.

“They’re going to be physical, they’re going to be fast and they’re going to be aggressive, flamboyant, and they’re going to throw the ball around – and that’s just want we want to play against.

“This is what the World Cup is going to be like, so anything we can do to replicate that is going to be good for us.”

Leeds Rhinos’ Josh Butler is set to make his England debut in Sunday’s Test, while former captain Martin Norris is included again after impressing in the Wheelchair Super League for Wigan Warriors following his international recall after a seven-year absence for the 2021 matches against France.

James Simpson joins Sky Sports as guest pundit for Sunday's wheelchair international

James Simpson joins Sky Sports as guest pundit for Sunday’s wheelchair international

One notable omission from the team, however, is James Simpson, although Leeds’ treble-winning captain will be in attendance in Manchester as Sky Sports‘ guest pundit for the match.

The fact a mainstay of the team like Simpson misses out is evidence of the growing strength in depth of England’s squad and head coach Tom Coyd will have plenty more difficult decisions to make ahead of the World Cup.

“Everyone in the performance squad of 19 has been working so hard all year following the postponement of the World Cup by 12 months, and my message to the players omitted is that places are still up for grabs,” Coyd said.

“To face France in a mid-season international is perfect preparation for the World Cup. It’s exciting that we’ve picked a young squad and we have more strength in depth than ever thanks to the increased intensity of our domestic competitions.”

Leeds Rhinos defeated Leyland Warriors 52-36 to win the Wheelchair Super League Grand Final and complete 'the treble' for the 2021 season.

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Leeds Rhinos defeated Leyland Warriors 52-36 to win the Wheelchair Super League Grand Final and complete ‘the treble’ for the 2021 season.

Leeds Rhinos defeated Leyland Warriors 52-36 to win the Wheelchair Super League Grand Final and complete ‘the treble’ for the 2021 season.

Halliwell, another member of the Rhinos team which swept all before them on the domestic scene last year, is excited just to be getting back out on the court for England again.

And he is aiming to put into practice some of the leadership skills he has developed after getting the opportunity to visit Betfred Super League clubs and learn from some of his counterparts in the running game.

“I’ve been around some of the Super League clubs and some of the leadership groups they’ve got there, and they’ve been amazing with me and showed me the ropes,” Halliwell said.

“They advised me to be my own captain and that’s one thing I’m looking forward to doing at the weekend.

France defeated England in last year's Test series

France defeated England in last year’s Test series

“It’s always special to pull on the England jersey. It’s one thing you dream of when you’re a kid, to wear the England crest and to represent your country. It’s a massively important thing and I’m looking forward to it.”

Named squads

England: Tom Halliwell (captain), Seb Bechara, Josh Butler, Nathan Collins, Joe Coyd, Rob Hawkins, Lewis King, Martin Norris, Adam Rigby, Declan Roberts.

France: Abassi Mostefa, Alazard Lionel, Duhalde Thomas, Guttadoro Florian, Dore Damien, Mautz Guillaume, Vargas Arno, Verdi Yann, Zittel Adrien.

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