YOUNG Saints prop George Delaney expressed his delight after England boss Shaun Wane rang to tell him he is the test squad preparing for Saturday’s game in France.

The uncapped 20-year-old front rower joins fellow Saints Jack Welsby and Matty Lees in the squad preparing for the mid-season test in Toulouse.

Although the strong-running Widnesian has played for the England Knights, this is his first tome with the elite national squad – and he sees it as a massive honour and opportunity to learn.

Delaney said: “When Shaun phoned me up and spoke about the way I have been playing and told me I was in the squad for the weekend I couldn’t believe it really as it is something I did not expect at this stage.

“He said whether I make the 17 or not it will be a great experience for me.

“Even if I don’t play I will get used to this environment if I get called up once again down the line.

“Any time playing for England is massive for me – if I do end up playing it'll be huge for me – and I will cherish that.

“I am happy to be amongst those names and be recognised as not being far off them or being on a par with some of them so it is very pleasing.”


Wane has selected a number of middles, including ex-Saint Luke Thompson and current teammate Matty Lees.

Delaney, who joined up with the camp today, was relishing this opportunity to watch and learn – and then hopefully don the shirt.

“Working with Matty Lees and seeing what he does on a day-to-day basis at Saints has been great for my development, so it will be good to see what all the other internationals are like and the way they train,” Delaney said.

“Me and Matty are quite similar in that we get through a lot of work and are quite fit for props. So we can do a lot more game time than the average front rower.

“Obviously the big men on the bench play a massive role as well, but a lot of teams are playing faster now and it's a set for set and that's how we are playing and that suits my game.”

Remarkably Delaney has now racked up 38 appearances in the red vee since making his debut just a couple of weeks after his 18th birthday in March 2022.

At one stage this term his game time was managed by coach Paul Wellens, but given the extent of Saints’ injury list Delaney has had to put his shoulder to the wheel and front up as a starting prop in place of Alex Walmsley.

Delaney said: “It's been a challenge for me to go from coming off the bench and doing 20 minutes or 30 minutes to having to start the game.

“That has been a lot more intense and I have played longer minutes, but it's been that challenge I've enjoyed and wanted to test myself with that different intensity at the start of the game.”

Prop is often one of the toughest roles to adjust to from Age Grade rugby to open age level against the seasoned, grizzled old pros who know all the dark arts of front row play.

But Delaney has taken it all in his stride and has never got ahead of himself and has been prepared to do the hard graft away from the club – earning credits for his Dual Reg appearances for Swinton in early 2023 while the rest of the top squad were in Australia.

“My journey has gone perfectly. I went from Academy and then Reserves and before playing for Saints I got the taste of the Championship, which is a bit tougher and slower. The fast game is game, so it made it easier for me,” he said.

“The Castleford and Wakefield games in 2022 were days of resting the first team and they don't come often.

“So when you get your chance, you have got to make the most of it.

“I didn't really expect it to go to Australia - it was my first year I was a young lad coming through the Academy and I had accepted I was not going early on, before the lads went.

“By the time they were on the way I was already over it and I knew I could take it as a chance to train and get my head down and get a few games under my belt in the Championship.

“I am still progressing, and playing at the highest level now I'm picking up so much every game with feedback.”

Delaney’s route to the first team from the Academy is one that has been followed this year by teenager Noah Stephens, who has made a big impression in recent weeks during Saints’ injury crisis.

Deaney said: “Noah has stepped up really well as well. He's had a few good games off the bench and he brings something different.

“He's a massive lad – him and Iggy off the bench bring something different, they are powerful and get the ruck speed going so Daz can jump out.”