November 7th, 2019

Anderson on Hughes and Philbin

 

England Knights head coach Paul Anderson has sent his congratulations and best wishes to Jack Hughes and Joe Philbin as they prepare for the Second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch this weekend.

Hughes, who is set to make his GB debut at centre at the Orangetheory Stadium, was the Knights’ captain on their tour of Papua New Guinea last autumn, when they drew a two-match series against the Kumuls.

Philbin lined up alongside his Warrington Wolves’ club-mate in both of those games, and after a late call into the GB performance squad this summer, the 24-year-old forward relished his Test debut against the Kiwis at Eden Park last weekend.

It means they will both be on familiar territory when the GB squad head for PNG next week for the last game of the tour at the Oil Search Stadium in Port Moresby.

For Anderson, who has been head coach of the Knights since the team was relaunched as part of the England Performance Unit last year, that underlines the value of being able to provide international experience to younger players as a bridge to the full England and Great Britain teams.

“I’m really pleased for Jack and Joe to have made the progress they have on this tour,” said Anderson, who is also head coach of the Warrington Academy.

“They were excellent tourists with the Knights in Papua New Guinea last year – Jack as our captain.

“And the fact that they have kicked on from that experience to earn Great Britain selection this year is another example of the value of the Knights programme in the England Performance Unit – especially as we build to the World Cup in two years.”

Like many other members of the Great Britain squad, Hughes received his first international recognition with the England Academy team, which is now another part of the EPU.

Anderson added: “It’s great to be able to show the lads that our pathway is working. For the players who were selected for the Knights against Jamaica last month, and the younger lads who have played representative rugby at academy level this season, they can see from the progress that Jack and Joe have made how close they are to that next level.”

Following today’s confirmation of a three-match Ashes series for the senior England team against Australia next autumn, the EPU are continuing to explore options for the Knights in 2020 – with preparations already well underway for the Academy to go on tour to the southern hemisphere.

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