St Helens star man Jack Welsby will captain his second game for England tomorrow against Tonga, after impressing boss Shaun Wane last weekend.
England face Tonga at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium, looking to go 2-0 up in the series.
Last Sunday’s 22-18 win was special for St Helens super star Welsby because he became England’s youngest captain at the age of 22.
At Welsby’s home ground, the Totally Wicked Stadium, Tonga became the first team from the Pacific Island’s to tour England.
And the youngster did enough to keep the job of skipper.
Coach Shaun Wane said: “For a young kid, he has not captained his club for many games, so to captain his country in the manner he did, I was very impressed.
“His words before the game were important and justified.”
When asked about why Welsby was named captain, head coach Wane told the BBC: “It needs to be a person who can oversee pressure really well and Jack fits that, he’s done it for years.
“Obviously, George (Williams) is the captain, unfortunately he’s not out there, but Jack Welsby brings us loads of energy, he’s very very confident, he doesn’t panic under pressure and that’s a great skill for me to be a captain.”
Welsby was able to put a disappointing end to the domestic season to behind him and put on a superb display.
His big highlight came when he played a superb ball to Tom Johnstone on England’s final tackle, 14 minutes into the second half. This gave England the lead in the cagey affair at a time when they needed it.
He also showed a willingness to put his body on the line, doing the badge proud, as in the second half he knocked the ball backwards form a Tonga kick, which helped England retain possession at a crucial time.
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) October 22, 2023
The Wigan-born full back was nearly kicked in the head in the process.
He proved that despite it being a three game international series, he was going to treat this game like a decider.
Despite a late Tonga try and conversion in the 77th minute narrowing the gap to four points, he was able to keep a calm a head for his team which allowed England to force a knock on.
Following the game Welsby spoke the BBC about being named captain.
He said: “I’m very humbled by it and very excited was the main thing.”
Welsby’s calm demeanour proved to be crucial for England in the closing minutes of the game and it is what they will need in the rest of the series.
Tonga showed they can take England into the trenches if needs be. A calm head like Welsby, who is already a Super League winner, showed us his experience in this situation and it is what England will no doubt need.
He was able to impress fans around the world.
Mike Meehall Wood posted on X: “Jack Welsby is the Alexander the Great of British rugby league, weeping with no worlds left to conquer. It’s why he need to be in the NRL and soon.”
Jack Welsby is the Alexander the Great of British rugby league, weeping with no worlds left to conquer. It’s why he need to be in the NRL and soon.
Please someone, pay St Helens the transfer fee and get him here pronto. https://t.co/Mjx2ZRAVWi
— Mike Meehall Wood (@MikeMeehallWood) October 23, 2023
England missed more tackles than their opponents last week and Tonga have shown they will be no push over.
The score showed how one mistake may cost any team the game. Tonga were also able to gain good field position, out-kicking their opponents by 100 meters, something which England will no doubt look to improve on ahead of Saturday’s game.
The match kicks-off at 2.30pm and will be available to watch on BBC 1.