St Helens’ Grand Final winning duo Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival have been ruled out of England’s team for the World Cup.
Lomax played under duress for much of the Super League season after suffering a ruptured bicep in April as he guided Saints to a record fourth successive Grand Final triumph.
The experienced half-back was man of the match in his team’s 24-12 win over Leeds at Old Trafford on Saturday but hinted in the post-match press conference that he may not be available for the World Cup.
Confirmation of his absence is a major blow for England but is likely to be good news for club-mate Jack Welsby, who stepped into Lomax’s shoes for the mid-season game against the Combined Nations All Stars and could now line up alongside George Williams for the opening game against Samoa.
England coach Shaun Wane will also have to ponder his centre options with Percival failing to recover sufficiently from the knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for most of the second half of the season.
The double injury blow follows the loss of another centre, Harry Newman (Leeds), as well as forwards Alex Walmsley (St Helens) and Liam Farrell (Wigan).
On the plus side, Brisbane’s England-born centre Herbie Farnworth will be named in Wane’s 24-man squad when it is unveiled at a press conference in Worsley on Friday morning.
Farnworth, a naturally-gifted sportsman who was once on Manchester United’s books, began the NRL season in sensational form but has not played since June after suffering a bicep injury.
However, he never gave up hope of recovering in time for the World Cup and is set to make his debut against the Samoans at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on October 15.
His centre partner could be former Leeds favourite Kallum Watkins, who has proved to be a revelation while playing in the second row for Salford in 2022.