England will face a newly-renamed Combined Nations All Stars in June – with players from the other Home Nations and the rest of the world to be considered for selection in an expansion of the Exiles concept many expected to return this summer.
Shaun Wane has long insisted that England play at least one mid-season international in preparation for this year’s World Cup. And ahead of his first physical get-together with the players this week, Thirteen has learned that the Rugby Football League will confirm on Tuesday that a newly-named select side will be England’s opponents on Friday June 25 at an as-yet unnamed venue.
Thirteen understands that the RFL are keen to draw on the heritage of the Other Nationalities representative side, which has a history dating back as far as 1903. Furthermore, the governing body have dropped the Exiles tag and are keen to refresh the concept ahead of its return, with a wider pool of players now available to select from.
Those who have represented nations such as Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Jamaica are now all available for selection – meaning England could face the likes of Regan Grace, Morgan Escare and Thirteen columnist Tyrone McCarthy later this year, as well as the usual mix of Antipodean players that normally comprise the Exiles side. It was felt that the Exiles name had to be dropped due to the definition of the word exile not being an appropriate description of players such as those who have represented Home Nations.
The concept is being brought back for the first time in eight years, and is seen as a major stepping stone for England’s plans ahead of the World Cup. Thirteen also understands that the renaming of the side to the Combined Nations All Stars will add some appeal to Antipodean players who are approached for selection, with a nod to the All Stars game in the NRL. This, in effect, now becomes the northern hemisphere’s equivalent of that match.
The coach for the Combined Nations All Stars could be named as soon as this week. Thirteen, however, has learned of one of the leading candidates already. Click here for further details.