A first official England Community Lions Physical Disability squad has today been announced following confirmation that there will be a PDRL tournament as part of next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
This week’s announcement of the new schedule for RLWC2021 following its postponement to the autumn of 2022 included details of a six-team PDRL competition to be based in Warrington, with teams from Australia and New Zealand travelling to take on the four Home Nations.
The players hopeful of inclusion in the England squad have endured a frustrating 12 months since the national PDRL team was formed last autumn as part of the RFL’s Community Lions programme. But despite the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are now more players than ever aiming to impress head coach Shaun Briscoe – the former Wigan, Hull, Hull KR and Widnes full-back, who represented England on 11 occasions between 2004-2009.
The 24-strong squad is dominated by players from Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos, who contested the first game of PDRL in the northern hemisphere in 2018. They are joined by players from Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity and Wigan Warriors.
Rugby League broke new ground this year with the sport’s first ever ‘classification day’ for the Physical Disability game as part of the selection process for the PDRL World Cup. All 24 players have been through the process, which assessed and categorised physical impairments using the Activity Alliance (formerly the English Federation of Disability Sports) profiling system.
Shaun Briscoe said: “The World Cup announcement was really exciting for everyone involved in Physical Disability Rugby League, and I know the lads will be buzzing when we meet up. This is a provisional squad, selected on form during the 2021 season, but there is still plenty of time for other players to make their case.”
Chris Godfrey, the RFL’s Social and Inclusion Manager, added: “This is a landmark moment for Rugby League and PDRL as a sport. It is the first England squad ever named and the first international Rugby League team in the world that has been through a robust classification process. These are huge strides for the sport especially coming out of lockdowns and the global pandemic. We know how emotive this can be and whilst the 24 named in this squad should be extremely proud of their selection, all others that have been through this process should be proud as well and continue to work hard going into next season.”
England Community Lions PDRL squad
Mike Addison, Jamie Barnett, Tom Bayliss (all Warrington Wolves), Pete Clarke (Leeds Rhinos), Adam Fleming (Wakefield Trinity), Scott Gobin (Leeds Rhinos), Mark Gummerson (Castleford Tigers), Nick Horner (Leeds Rhinos), Lewis Kennedy (Warrington Wolves), Nick Kennedy (Castleford Tigers), Connor Lynes (Wakefield Trinity), Adam Morris (Warrington Wolves), Steve Mort (Wigan Warriors), Ben Nicholson, Callum Parkinson (both Wakefield Trinity), Tommy Pouncey, Harvey Redmonds (both Leeds Rhinos), Ben Seward (Wigan Warriors), Tony Seward, Barry Whalley, Josh Whipday (all Warrington Wolves), Keenan Wilkes (Castleford Tigers), Chris Young, Sam Zellar (both Leeds Rhinos)