Tom Halliwell named England Wheelchair captain for historic mid-season international against Wales

Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair’s Tom Halliwell has been appointed as captain of England Wheelchair for the first time for Saturday’s Mid-Season International against Wales at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Halliwell, now 21, made his England debut as a 16-year-old in 2015, having discovered Wheelchair Rugby League after suffering a badly broken leg in the junior ranks at Leeds Rhinos.

He has been a key figure in the development of the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair team who won their first major trophy in 2019, and works as a full-time educational support worker at a Special Educational Needs school in Ossett in Wakefield.

Tom Coyd, the Head Coach of England Wheelchair, said: “Since Tom was first called into the England set-up, his attitude to training and willingness to learn has been exemplary. Learning his trade as a development player with limited opportunities to play internationally, Tom has bided his time and never wavered in his determination to realise his potential.

“After playing a small part in the 2017 World Cup, Tom returned to club duties at Leeds Rhinos and was a key part in the creation of their great team. Since then, he has grown to be one of the most influential players in the domestic competition, with great game knowledge and leadership qualities.

“Tom captained the England Wheelchair Knights to Tri Nations victory in 2019 as England defeated Wales and Scotland to win the series. He played a key role in the landmark victory over France on their home soil, and the undefeated tour of Australia in October of the same year.

“Through the COVID period and since returning to play in March of this year, Tom has set a very high standard with regards to intensity of our practice, attention to detail and being a great ambassador for Wheelchair Rugby League.

“Tom has the respect of his team-mates and opponents each time he takes the field, and I am excited for him to lead us out on Saturday.”

Tom Halliwell said: “When I broke my leg in a freak training accident, I was told that I would not be the same player. Thanks to the coaches at Leeds, I turned my attentions to the Wheelchair game and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I was surprised when I was told I would be Captain for the game, as there are so many great players in the squad but am thrilled to be able to lead out such an amazing group of players, especially after seeing the amount of hard work everyone has put in during the Covid pandemic.

“It is always an honour to pull on an England shirt and thanks to the Head Coach leading the side against Wales will be a dream come true.”

England Wheelchair Rugby League face Wales at 12.30pm on Saturday 26th June at EIS Sheffield. There are no tickets remaining for the fixture, but the game will be streamed live by the BBC Sport on Red Button and iPlayer.