Graham to lead England in World Cup Nines, GB squad starts to take shape


James Graham will captain England in the inaugural World Cup Nines in Sydney.

The veteran St George Illawarra Dragons prop was confirmed on Sunday as the leader of a 16-man party featuring six players from the NRL and 10 from Super League.

However, there are no representatives from St Helens or Salford Red Devils, who will contest Super League’s Grand Final on Saturday – the day the England squad departs for Sydney.

England will face Wales, France and Lebanon in their qualifying group at the Nines, which will take place at Bankwest Stadium on October 18 and 19.

Of the 16 players selected for the Nines, 11 – Graham, Gareth Widdop, Elliott Whitehead, Ryan Hall, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Jack Hughes, Jake Trueman, Jermaine McGillvary, George Williams and Jake Connor – have also been picked for Great Britain’s subsequent tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Sam Tomkins, Reece Lyne, Ash Handley and Liam Watts are on standby for the GB tour having been picked for the Nines, while Ryan Sutton will only participate in the shortened format.

Warrington Wolves half-back Blake Austin and Canberra Raiders duo John Bateman and Josh Hodgson were not considered for Nines selection due to injury, but they are expected to be available for the GB tour.

Great Britain’s full 24-man touring party will be announced on October 14.

England Nines squad:

James Graham (captain), Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Jake Connor, Ryan Hall, Ash Handley, Jack Hughes, Reece Lyne, Jermaine McGillvary, Ryan Sutton, Sam Tomkins, Jake Trueman, Liam Watts, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams.