TREBLE-WINNING Leeds Rhinos have today seen three players named in the England squad for the forthcoming Tests with France and New Zealand.
Steve Prescott Man of Steel Zak Hardaker, winger Ryan Hall and centre Kallum Watkins are all included in Steve McNamara’s 24-man group.
However, there is still no recall for Danny McGuire, man-of-the-match in last night’s Grand Final win over Wigan Warriors and deemed one of Super League’s top half-backs this year.
Castleford Tigers scrum-half Luke Gale is one of seven uncapped players - club-mate Michael Shenton is surprisingly left out - called up along with Huddersfield Giants’ prolific winger Jermaine McGillvary.
The squad will be captained by Wigan’s Sean O’Loughlin, and includes 16 survivors from last year’s Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
The other newcomers include the Wigan trio of former Bradford Bulls second-row John Bateman, Sydney Roosters-bound winger Joe Burgess and Super League Young Player of the Year George Williams, the stand-off.
NRL-based forward Mike Cooper, who toured with the national side last year but did not play, and Warrington Wolves forward Ben Currie are the others.
There is a recall for Huddersfield’s Leroy Cudjoe while St Helens hooker James Roby and Warrington’s Ben Westwood are back after missing the 2014 Four Nations through injury while six players – South Sydney Rabbitohs George Burgess, St Helens’ Alex Walmsley, Leeds’ Stevie Ward, Brisbane Broncos Jack Reed, Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford and Wigan’s Joel Tomkins - have not been considered due to injury or upcoming surgery during the close season.
McNamara, said: “We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places.
“There is a tremendous challenge in front of us against the best Rugby League nation in the world. New Zealand will be formidable opponents.
“There is a strong core of players that have come through the England system over recent years and have the desire, appetite and quality to do English Rugby League proud in this tournament.
“We are fully aware that we will need to work exceptionally hard and play to a very high level to win the tournament. Our aim is to win our first home series against southern hemisphere opposition since Great Britain defeated New Zealand in 2007.”
England will be based throughout the tournament at the Football Association’s St George’s Park training facility in Burton-upon-Trent.
England’s international schedule kicks off at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday October 24 (2.00pm) with a match against France.
The three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1 (5.00pm) moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm). The series concludes at the DW Stadium, Wigan on Saturday November 14 (1.00pm).
England squad for Kiwis: Bateman (Wigan), J Burgess (Wigan), T Burgess (South Sydney), Cooper (St George-Illawarra), Cudjoe (Huddersfield), Currie (Warrington), L Farrell (Wigan), Ferres (Huddersfield), Gale (Castleford), Graham (Canterbury), Hall (Leeds), Hardaker (Leeds), Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), McGillvary (Huddersfield), O’Loughlin (Wigan), Roby (St Helens), M Smith (Wigan), Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors), Watkins (Leeds), Westwood (Warrington), Whitehead (Catalans), Widdop (St George-Illawarra), Williams (Wigan).