Matt King has decided to play for the Exiles on Friday night, despite the rival claims of another event. The Warrington centre's wife is due to give birth to their first child and he was considering pulling out of the game at Headingley to be with her.
"It was touch and go whether I was going to play this week," he said. "My wife, Kirsten, is expecting our first child on 15 June and I was reluctant to leave her.
"Luckily, we arranged for her mum to arrive from Australia this week to look after her. It would've been sad to miss it, but now I'm just glad to be here."
King, who has experienced the build-up for Tests and for State of Origin, says he detects the same sense of occasion ahead of this match.
"It's a great honour and privilege to be part of the first Exiles squad," he said. "Brian McClennan has created a special environment and has got all the players working together."
The England coach, Steve McNamara, will name his 18-man squad at Headingley today.
Sean Long, meanwhile, is unlikely to play again this season after being told that it will take him three months to recover from a dislocated shoulder. Scans have shown that the damage he suffered playing in his comeback match for Hull against Hull KR on Sunday is not quite as bad as it might have been. "But he still requires surgery and will face at least 12 weeks in rehabilitation," the club said. "It does mean that he has an outside chance of returning before the end of the season."
That could depend on whether Hull make the play-offs without Long, who has had dreadful luck with injuries this year and, at 34, is out of contract at the end of this season.
The Rugby Football League is set to move the Challenge Cup final next summer to avoid the London Olympics. The Wembley showpiece, already moved from its traditional May weekend because of the switch to a summer season, would normally be played at the end of August, but is now likely to be brought forward to July.Reuse content