‘Sky is the limit’ for young stars, insists England’s George Williams

‘Sky is the limit’ for young stars, insists England’s George Williams

Rejuvenated England half-back George Williams says the sky is the limit for the two youngest members of Shaun Wane’s World Cup squad.

Winger Dom Young and utility back Jack Welsby, both just 21, have been central to England’s impressive start to the tournament which has seen them book their place in the knockout stages with a game to spare.

Young earned his call-up after an eye-catching performance in England’s warm-up game against Fiji and has scored two tries in each of his first two games for his country, including a length-of-the-field spectacular in Saturday’s 42-18 win over France.

“Young Dom is probably the most athletic player I’ve seen,” said Williams. “I’ve played with some pretty athletic blokes and I think he’s up there.

“He’s 6ft 6in, fast and strong and you’ve seen how he moves. The sky’s the limit for that bloke.

“I think being in Australia will do him the world of good. He’s got all the attributes and he’s doing the hard stuff out of yardage too.”

Welsby, so pivotal in St Helens’ last three Grand Final triumphs, is proving just as influential to the national team.

He partnered Williams in the halves in England’s opening 60-6 win over Samoa and, after starting on the bench at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, showed some classy touches at full-back and centre.

England v France – Rugby League World Cup – Group A – University of Bolton Stadium
George Williams is impressed by Dom Young’s athleticism (Martin Rickett/PA)

“He’s a talent, a natural rugby player,” said Williams. “Put him on the wing, at full-back in the halves, even in the middle, he’d be able to create something.

“He’s a good kid too, willing to learn. Obviously he’s done a lot already in his career but he’s always listening and trying to get better.

“He understands the game as well so he’s another one where the sky is the limit.”

England’s place in the quarter-finals was confirmed when Samoa beat Greece 72-4 in Doncaster on Sunday.

England v Samoa – Rugby League World Cup – Group A – St James’ Park
Williams believes he sky is the limit for Jack Welsby (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Samoans will now play France at Warrington next Sunday for the other qualification place while England play their final group game against the Greeks in Sheffield on Saturday.

Williams is delighted with England’s start to the tournament but, like his hard-to-please coach, knows there is more to come from them.

Wane appeared to be animated as he delivered his half-time lecture after watching them let France back in the game with two tries in the second quarter.

“He gave us a little bit of a roasting but I’ve seen worse,” Williams said. “I think we got what we deserved.

England v France – Rugby League World Cup – Group A – University of Bolton Stadium
Williams has been back to his best in the World Cup so far (Richard Sellers/PA)

“He told us that wasn’t good enough, that back 20 minutes of the first half.

“When you play at international level, you know where your standard should be.

“But credit to France for the way they came back. That was probably the best French team I’ve played against.

“I’m happy with where we’re going. We’re not perfect at the moment.

“We’ve qualified for the quarters after two games and now we’ve got to prepare for Greece and put a few wrongs right.”

Williams’ participation in the World Cup was jeopardised by Warrington’s dismal 2022 Super League campaign which cost his team-mates Stefan Ratchford, Ben Currie and Daryl Clark their England squad places but he has rediscovered his best form to easily justify his selection.

“I’m really enjoying, it,” he said. “We’ve got a good winning environment, which helps.

“Playing with some good players always helps. No disrespect to my team-mates at Warrington but there’s some world-class players in there and they make my job a lot easier.

“The middles we’ve got at the moment are going really well for us. There’s some big bodies there and Victor Radley is really good through that middle. he can link up with the halves and he can do the tough stuff too.”