ALTHOUGH he did not play for England against France at the weekend, the belief is that Saints’ rising star forward George Delaney will be an ever better version of himself thanks to the experience.

The Whiston-born 20-year-old made the 19-man cut for Shaun Wane’s England and spent time in the camp with the squad while also travelling to Toulouse and experiencing the matchday scenarios.

All within the Saints camp feel his call-up is much deserved, having stepped up to the plate in the absence of senior front rowers through injury over the past three seasons and making it difficult for head coach Paul Wellens to leave him out of the side.

“We’ve always held high hopes for George ever since he was in the academy,” said Wellens.

“He plays the game in a very simple way. He runs the ball hard, he makes his tackles, he’s very uncomplicated, but I think that’s what gets the respect of his teammates.

“Very much deserved call-up for him. We’re always delighted as a club when we get international representation, and George getting that recognition was great.

“Obviously he would have much preferred to have played in the game, but I firmly believe that spending time in and around the international environment - in and around different groups of players - will benefit him moving forward.”

The England clash with France was a low-key affair and Wellens was asked where he feels the game is sat in terms of England Rugby League as a concept.

“England Rugby League want internationals and they want to play big internationals,” said Wellens.

“I think it is something for the international board to really get a grip of in terms of how they can move the international game forward.

“Having been involved in the England set-up for a good number of years both as a player and coach, I know the appetite for big international games.

“Obviously we had the Covid years, but the very fact that we haven’t played Australia since the 2017 World Cup Final is quite frankly ridiculous.

“British rugby league fans want to see those big games, they want to see Ashes games, they want to see England take on New Zealand.

“They get to play against a strong Samoa team at the end of the year so prioritising the international games in the right areas of the calendar is the best way to go about it.”