England have the chance to start a new era in Perpignan ahead of World Cup bid

It's not the 2020 Ashes or the 2021 World Cup – but Saturday's test match in France is still hugely important for England.

With the World Cup having been pushed back 12 months this has become a real rebuilding period for England, and eight players will win their first caps in Perpignan.

Over the last few years we’ve lost some quality players from the international scene, including Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Burgess, James Graham and James Roby.

For coach Shaun Wane it’s now about finding out which players can step up from Super League to have an impact at international level.

There’s a lot of different things that come with that – how do you react in camp if you’re not playing? How do you deal with players you’ve not played alongside before? Can you fit into a new system with a new coach?

That’s what Shaun Wane will get out of this camp, and playing France in France will provide reasonably difficult opposition – if not quite at the level of facing Australia, New Zealand or Tonga.

Of the eight players winning their first caps the one I'm most looking forward to seeing is Jordan Abdull.

If somebody had told you four years ago that he would be playing for England you’d have checked what they were drinking. But it’s huge credit to him, Hull KR and his coach Tony Smith that he’s here now.

I hope he believes in himself enough to take this opportunity with both hands because he’s a wonderfully talented player.

He also got some assets which could undoubtedly trouble the top teams I’ve just mentioned – especially his spiralling high kick, which could cause havoc at any level.

You’d think that Jonny Lomax and George Williams would be first in line for the starting places in the World Cup, but Jordan Abdull could really make a difference somewhere in the side. It’s great to somebody overcome adversity and make his way into the England side.

The other real positive this weekend is that England Women’s test against France is part of a double-header in Perpignan and will be screened live on BBC2.

The BBC should be commended for showing it on one of their main channels and it’s great for the women’s game and its current growth.

If we want to be an inclusive sport and stage the most inclusive World Cup ever next year then this is another major plus.

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