Trio in England Knights Performance Squad

Trio in England Knights Performance Squad

7th March 2018

Widnes Vikings are proud to announce that Tom Gilmore, Danny Walker and Matt Whitley have been selected for the England Knights Performance Squad.

The Knights are a key part of the newly formed England Performance Unit (EPU) led by Rugby Director, Kevin Sinfield. The unit aims to develop more world-class England players for all senior squads for the 2021 and 2025 Rugby League World Cups.

The trio, who have all been developed within the Vikings youth system, have been unveiled today as members of the 25-man Knights squad.  They will be linking up with the England setup in the build-up to the mid-season test against New Zealand, with fixtures for the squad still to be confirmed.

Quotes From The Vikings

Tom Gilmore says: “I’m very pleased to have been called into the England Knights Performance Squad. I’ve been in the England setup before (at youth level), and it’s a proud moment to represent your country. 

The call up stems from a successful pre-season and the game time that I’ve had recently. I’ve always believed that I can show people what I’m capable of if I can put a run of games together, and thankfully I’ve been able to do that. Hopefully people will see me continue to improve each week.

These callups are positive for the club too. Widnes Vikings focus on developing their own young talent, and to have three lads who’ve come through our system in the squad is a proud moment for the club.”

Matt Whitley says: “I was made up to hear that I have been called up for the squad. Ask any Rugby League player and they’ll say they want to dream of playing internationally, so this is a very special moment. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for me and I can continue to progress within the England setup in the future.

To have three of the 25-man squad come through Widnes Vikings Academy is a huge success and speaks volumes about the club. Knowing Danny and Tom will make the transition into the Knights squad easier, and we’re all really excited to get started together.”

Danny Walker says: “I was shocked when I heard that I had been called up. It’s nice to be recognised at such an early age, but I’d like to think that I can give it my all at every level and I’m up for this challenge. The call ups are a testament to the coaching we’ve had all the way from scholarship through to the first team, and the hard work of everyone who is part of our youth system.

I’ve been very proud to have been part of the England setup at youth levels, and to take this next step up now is a really exciting honour.”

Phil Finney, Widnes Vikings Head of Youth Performance, “Since our return to Super League, the club has placed a real focus on the development of its own young players. This is another significant milestone in the evolution of the club’s youth pathway, with the players being our first senior England representatives. This success is recognition for all of the people who have contributed to their development as players, including their families, community club coaches, and the staff and volunteers at the Vikings.

These three players have worked incredibly hard and remained loyal to the Vikings, and fully deserve this recognition. We hope that this inspires and motivates the next generation of players within our system, that they too can follow in their footsteps.”


Widnes Vikings Head Coach, Denis Betts, says: “We are delighted to see that Widnes Vikings are represented by three players in this squad. Tom, Danny and Matt are outstanding young talents, who have big futures ahead of them. Their callups represent a proud moment for them, their families and everyone who has supported their development in the game.

As a club, the Vikings have placed real emphasis on developing their own talent and the impact of this strategy is evident. I am sure that supporters will feel proud having three of their own represent England.” 


England Quotes.

England Knights Head Coach, Paul Anderson, said: “The return of England Knights is hugely beneficial for the future of England Rugby League and developing players to a high standard for International Series’ and the 2021 and 2025 Rugby League World Cups.

“The sessions proved valuable for the Elite squad in 2017 and involving the Knights Performance Squad can only improve England’s chances in future international tournaments.”


England Knights Performance Squad:

  • Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers)
  • Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers)
  • Kruise Leeming (Huddersfield Giants)
  • Josh Bowden (Hull FC)
  • Jake Connor (Hull FC) 
  • Dean Hadley (Hull FC)
  • Masimbaashe Matongo (Hull FC)
  • Jamie Shaul (Hull FC)
  • Chris Atkin (Hull KR)
  • Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos)
  • Jack Walker (Leeds Rhinos)
  • James Cunningham (London Broncos)
  • Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors)
  • Tom Davies (Wigan Warriors)
  • Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors)
  • Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors)
  • Ryan Sutton (Wigan Warriors)
  • Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils)
  • Danny Richardson (St Helens)
  • Luke Thompson (St Helens)
  • Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity)
  • Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves)
  • Tom Gilmore (Widnes Vikings)
  • Danny Walker (Widnes Vikings)
  • Matt Whitley (Widnes Vikings)
Trio in England Knights Performance Squad