England Community Lions have selected a 20-player Under-17 squad for two-game midseason tour to France and with 16 different community clubs represented, the net has again been cast wide following a comprehensive trial process.
"We've had a few trials." Head Coach Martyn Oxbury confirmed. "We started off in Yorkshire and we had around seventy players attend that trial, predominantly from Yorkshire but there were some players from down south, London, and Kent who made the journey. A couple of weeks later we had a trial in Lancashire featuring players from there and Cumbria and any players we hadn't seen from the south. Again there were around another seventy players that attended that. From those 140, the coaching staff picked forty players for a final trial, and then from that we've picked our twenty-player squad. I've been very impressed with the talent that we've seen."
Gillingham's Medway Dragons are proudly represented by Jake Parkes. "It's great that we've got players in these areas, away from the traditional heartlands that have been put forward." Martyn continued, "Jake is a really good athletic player, he plays as a winger, is fast, has a good step and he really performed well at the trials. He's earned his opportunity and competed against a number of other wingers and he's got in on merit."
Three players return to the squad this year having featured for the Lions last term, including Scott Egan of Hensingham, who has impressed in the NCL this term and scored two tries against Wales last season. Seaton's Ellis Nixon is another player to progress to first team and this squad alongside Daniel Frost of Wigan St Judes.
"Scott has made that transition into NCL and he's performing well." Oxbury said, "People that I've spoken to rate him very highly and I've seen the skill and talent he has at the trials. Ellis Nixon is another player playing NCL for Seaton and Daniel Frost from Wigan St Judes. The fact we've got those representatives from last year is good. They have stayed in that community game, they've gone back to their clubs and continued to play at a high level and therefore they have come back again to trial from scratch. It's not the same coach as last year, so they have had to stand out to a new coaching group and it's a real credit to them that they have done that and got picked again."
Overall Wigan St Judes provide three players, with West Hull, Skirlaugh, and Leigh Miners Rangers each seeing two included from their clubs. Brighouse Rangers, Saddleworth Rangers, Salford Roosters, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Siddal, West Bowling, Milford, and Thornhill also provide one player.
The squad will fly to France on 20th July, returning on the 26th. During this time away they will play France in a two-test series, games taking place on the 22nd and 25th.
The full squad is as follows: Roman Shinks, Daniel Frost, Callum Palmer (Wigan St Judes), Jack Townend, Ethan Dooley (Skirlaugh), Frankie Fawcett, Waisale Ratuvou (West Hull), Ewan Smith, Harry Higham (Leigh Miners Rangers), Jake Parkes (Medway Dragons), Scott Egan (Hensingham), Ellis Nixon (Seaton Rangers), Luke Sinfield (Saddleworth Rangers), Myles Paul (Salford Roosters), Lewis Stewart (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Charlie Bahan (Siddal), Lewis Magson (West Bowling), Kieran Blan (Milford), Logan Senior (Brighouse Rangers), Bailey Lee (Thornhill Trojans).