RFL rugby director Kevin Sinfield has offered an explanation for the naming of an England squad for 2019, despite the team having no fixtures this year.
Sinfield said: “The men’s England Performance Squad and Knights Performance Squad had their first get-together of the year in Leeds this week.
“We noted some questioning why we have named an EPS for 2019 – but continuity is crucial, to build on the successes and progress of 2017 and 2018, and to ensure we continue working towards the privilege and opportunity of hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
“Players spending time with each other away from the game is vital for all our programmes and has been of huge benefit over the last two years.
“We also believe there is significant value in the EPS meeting with the Knights, stressing the links between the squads, which have been shown by the number of players who have made senior England debuts in the last 12 months.
“In addition to the senior England team playing in the Nines this autumn, the Knights will also be in action, which is important after the success of their tour to Papua New Guinea last year.
“The plan is for them to play at home, with further details to be confirmed shortly, and we hope Rugby League supporters will be keen to see the Knights for themselves.”