Leeds Rhinos injury-hit loose-forward/second-row Stevie Ward was the surprise inclusion in a specially selected group called together by England head coach Wayne Bennett.
Ward has yet to play for the Rhinos this year because of injury, but was one of six players in the group selected from bottom-of-the-table Leeds. Wigan, meanwhile, have nine players in the reckoning for the 2016 Four Nations Series, it has emerged following the ‘squad’ selection.
They were among a group of 31 specially selected to attend last week’s get-together with Bennett during his whistle-stop trip to the UK.
Bennett, who has succeeded Steve McNamara as national coach on a two-year contract, took advantage of a bye for his club Brisbane Broncos in the NRL to step up his preparations for the end-of-season internationals. During his seven-day visit, Bennett took in Super League games at Huddersfield, Widnes and Warrington, met the staff with whom he will be working during the Four Nations and visited the facilities England plan to use during the tournament.
Bennett refused all requests for media interviews during his trip but the RFL has released the names of the players invited to his get-together in Leeds.
They include all the England-based players involved in last year’s Test Series triumph over New Zealand while among the uncapped players were the St Helens quartet of Alex Walmsley, Mark Percival, Kyle Amor and Joe Greenwood.
Super League leaders Hull had just two players involved, scrum-half Mark Sneyd and prop Scott Taylor.
England get-together squad: A Walmsley, R Roby, M Percival, K Amor, J Greenwood (all St Helens), B Currie, B Westwood, C Hill, D Clark, S Ratchford (all Warrington), B Ferres, Z Hardaker, K Watkins, R Hall, T Briscoe, S Ward (all Leeds), J Bateman, D Sarginson, L Farrell, D Manfredi, S O’Loughlin, M Smith, J Tomkins, S Tomkins, G Williams (all Wigan), J McGilvary, L Cudjoe (both Huddersfield), Kevin Brown (Widnes), Luke Gale (Castleford), M Sneyd, S Taylor (both Hull).