Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair’s Nathan Collins was the star of an emphatic opening 62-12 victory for England Wheelchair against North Queensland in Townsville on their five-match tour of Australia – after the team had been inspired by a pre-match address from Great Britain legend Andy Platt.
Collins, an 18-year-old who starred for Leeds Rhinos in their first Wheelchair Challenge Cup triumph earlier this year, scored two of England’s 11 tries and landed six conversions for a personal haul of 20 points as the tourists warmed up impressively for stiffer tests to follow – including two Tests against Australia next week.
His Rhinos team-mate Ryan Richardson scored three tries, with two for Lewis King of the Kent-based Argonauts, and single scores from Joe Coyd, James Hazell and captain Jack Brown.
But England were happy to share the limelight with Gary Best, a youngster with Downs Syndrome who scored all three tries for the North Queensland team – to the delight of the local crowd, and ensuring substantial national media coverage for the first match of the tour.
England were delighted to involve Platt in their build-up to the match. The former St Helens and Wigan forward, who has settled in North Queensland after ending his playing career with Auckland Warriors, came to watch a training session, then presented the jerseys to the players on the eve of the match – and also attended the game.
England have now travelled south to Brisbane where they face Queensland in the second match of their tour on Friday. To see more, follow @England_RL on Twitter.