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England vs Tonga: Wigan Warriors captain Liam Farrell returns for Test series as Shaun Wane names squad

Liam Farrell is back in the England squad for the first time since 2021 after missing last year's Rugby League World Cup due to injury; England captain George Williams is included too pending the outcome of a disciplinary tribunal; The first Test against Tonga is in St Helens on Sunday

Picture by Ed Sykes/ - 29/07/2023 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 20 - Wigan Warriors v Leigh Leopards - DW Stadium, Wigan, England - Wigan Warriors' Liam Farrell applauds the fans after the game
Image: Liam Farrell is back in England's squad for the series against Tonga

Liam Farrell has been named in the England squad for the first time since 2021 for the upcoming three-Test series against Tonga.

The Wigan Warriors captain, who missed last year's Rugby League World Cup with a knee injury, is one of four players from the newly-crowned Super League champions to be included in England coach Shaun Wane's 24-strong line-up.

Meanwhile, England captain George Williams was named in the squad before being ruled for the first two Tests after an appeal against his ban being extended was rejected by the Rugby Football League.

Williams' original one-game suspension for a shoulder charge during Warrington's Betfred Super League play-off defeat by St Helens was doubled for what was described by the RFL as a "frivolous" appeal. That prompted a fresh appeal from Williams but that was also dismissed after a new three-person on-field operational rules appeals tribunal was convened.

Series fixtures

Sunday, October 22: England vs Tonga (Totally Wicked Stadium, 2.30pm).

Saturday, October 28: England vs Tonga (John Smith's Stadium, 2.30pm).

Saturday, November 4: England vs Tonga (Headingley, 2.30pm).

"I'm really pleased with the 24 players coming into camp as we look to beat Tonga in this three-game series," Wane said.

"All of the players included have impressed me throughout their respective Super League and NRL campaigns and are worthy of representing their country in this historic series."

Farrell is joined by Wigan clubmates Tyler Dupree, Harry Smith and loanee Toby King for the series, which kicks off at St Helens' Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday.

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Catalans Dragons winger Tom Johnstone and St Helens full-back Jack Welsby, both Man of Steel nominees, are included as well.

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England call-up Tom Johnstone ran the length of pitch in an outstanding solo effort to get his 22nd try of the season for Catalans Dragons

Plus, there is a place for Leigh Leopards forward Robbie Mulhern after an impressive campaign with the Betfred Challenge Cup winners.

NRL-based quintet Dom Young, John Bateman, Tom Burgess, Victor Radley and Elliott Whitehead are also part of Wane's squad for the series.

Wane urges England to learn from World Cup heartbreak

England head coach Wane has urged his side to learn the lessons from last year's World Cup heartbreak as they prepare to kick off their three-match series against Tonga this weekend.

Wane has named an initial 24-man squad for the series, which will mark their first serious test since their agonising golden-point semi-final defeat to Samoa at the Emirates Stadium last November, following a facile 64-0 win over France in June.

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Highlights of England's 64-0 win over France in this year's mid-season international

"We fell short at the World Cup and we need to improve," Wane said. "Tonga are very talented and their players play in an unbelievable competition so it is a massive challenge for us.

"Samoa was a massive test for us last year and we fell short, but we learned a lot of lessons and we have made progress.

"I'm very happy with the squad that I've got and I'm really excited to see how the young players perform in such a pressured environment."

Wane's options were hampered by a series of injury-enforced withdrawals, including St Helens duo Jonny Lomax and Alex Walmsley and Wigan centre Jake Wardle, fresh from winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match in last Saturday's Super League Grand Final.

England and Tonga Joint Press Conference - Totally Wicked Stadium - Tuesday October 17th
England's Tom Burgess and Jack Welsby pose with the test series trophy alongside Tonga's Tui Lolohea and Keaon Koloamatangi (left-right) during a press conference ahead of the first test match at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens. Picture date: Tuesday October 17, 2023.
Image: England and Tonga kick off their three-Test series in St Helens on Sunday

The 59-year-old dismissed questions over the international futures of the likes of Lomax, who also missed out on the World Cup.

"Without sounding nasty, I've forgotten about them," Wane said. "The only people I'm thinking about are in the 24-man squad."

England vs Tonga squads

England: Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves), John Bateman (Wests Tigers), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark, Ben Currie (both Warrington Wolves), Tyler Dupree, Liam Farrell (both Wigan Warriors), Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants), Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons), Toby King (Wigan Warriors), Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees (both St Helens), Mikey Lewis (Hull KR), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons), Robbie Mulhern (Leigh Leopards), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters), Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Jack Welsby (St Helens), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), George Williams (Warrington Wolves), Dom Young (Newcastle Knights).

Tonga: Latu Fainu (Manly Sea Eagles), Addin Fonua-Blake (New Zealand Warriors), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), Tyson Frizell (Newcastle Knights), Siliva Havili (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Will Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell (both St Helens), Isaiya Katoa (Dolphins), Eliesa Katoa (Melbourne Storm), Felise Kaufusi (Dolphins), Keaon Koloamatangi (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tolutau Koula (Manly Sea Eagles), Tui Lolohea (Huddersfield Giants), Haumole Olakau'atu (Manly Sea Eagles), Will Penisini (Parramatta Eels), Hame Sele (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Mosese Suli (St George Illawarra Dragons), Tevita Tatola, Dion Teaupa (both South Sydney Rabbitohs), Starford Toa (Wests Tigers), Daniel Tupou, Siua Wong (both Sydney Roosters).

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