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Warrington Wolves winger Joel Monaghan prepares for Exiles bow
Joel Monaghan believes Ryan Atkins' club form left Steve McNamara no choice but to recall him to the England squad
WOLVES’ winger Joel Monaghan is relishing his first taste of life with the Exiles – but is expecting his side of the pitch to be given a torrid evening by one of his club mates in the England ranks.
Monaghan believes Wolves’ powerful three-quarter Ryan Atkins is among the best centres in the world at the moment and is not surprised at England boss Steve McNamara’s change of heart in recalling him to the squad.
Atkins has been at his defence destroying best in powering home for 17 touchdowns already this term, as well being provider to plenty of the 19 rattled in by wing partner Chris Riley.
It was form that could not be overlooked.
Monaghan said: “It is good to see Ryan Atkins back in the England squad – but he more or less bashed the door down and gave them no choice.
“He has been the best centre in the competition by a mile and they would have been crazy not to pick him. He is up there with the best centres in the world at the minute so he definitely deserves it.”
Injury means that only Atkins and Garreth Carvell will be running out for England at Langtree Park, St Helens on Saturday, 6.45pm.
Only the form of the England wingers has stopped Riley getting a promotion from the England Knights squad and he will be one of four Wolves players in the side that play Ireland in the curtain raiser (4.15pm).
“Chris has been awesome for us – the only problem he has is that the blokes ahead of him are playing just as well.
"Josh Charnley has scored plenty of tries and Ryan Hall has been there and done it,” Monaghan said.
“Riles has just got to keep pushing – he is strong – has a low centre of gravity and gets his fend out he can make people miss him.
"He had a rough year last season but he has got stuck in during the pre-season and worked on the part of his game that was letting him down and is now one of the best wingers in the comp.”
Monaghan, who missed out on last year’s opener with a leg injury, is one of three Wolves players lining up in an Exiles squad skippered by Brett Hodgson and featuring Trent Waterhouse in the pack.
It is a challenge that excites the player who has turned out five times for Australian and twice for New South Wales.
“When you leave the NRL you thing the days of rep footy and going into camp with other blokes from different clubs is over. It is great that they have brought it back in over here,” he said.