Leeds Rhinos wing ace named in Great Britain performance squad - Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity also represented

Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley has been named in the Great Britain performance squad.

His clubmate Stevie Ward is also included, despite not having played since February, as are Castleford Tigers' Liam Watts and Jake Trueman and Reece Lyne of Wakefield Trinity.

Handley, who is Betfred Super League's leading try scorer with 22, was already a member of the England Knights training group.

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The 29-man Great Britain squad will meet for the first time in Leeds next week to begin the preparations for this autumn’s Lions tour.

Handley is one of five players from outside the England performance squad, alongside St Helens' Lachlan Coote and Morgan Knowles - who have represented Scotland and Wales respectively - plus Warrington Wolves forward Joe Philbin, who played for Ireland in the 2017 World Cup and Salford Red Devils' Josh Jones.

The squad is otherwise similar to the England group, but Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone and Castleford Tigers' half-back Luke Gale have been ruled out by injury, as has St Helens' Matty Lees.

Warrington’s Ben Currie was not considered for selection to allow him to have a full off-season after recent injury problems.

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The Great Britain performance squad has been selected by a seven-man panel led by head coach - and England boss - Wayne Bennett.

The other selectors included team manager and former GB captain Jamie Peacock, assistant-coaches Ian Watson and Danny Ward and ex-GB tourists in Paul Anderson, Paul Sculthorpe and Paul Wellens.

The squad does not include any NRL-based players.

Bennett said: Wayne Bennett said: “As we’ve said since the return of the Great Britain team was announced at the start of the year, we have considered everyone who is eligible and puts themselves forward.

"As well as this performance squad of players based in England and France, we’ve got another group of players based in the NRL to consider – and there’s still time for others who are eligible to impress and force their way in.”

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The final 24-man squad will be announced within 48 hours of the Betfred Super League Grand Final on October 12.

Great Britain’s first appearance on the international stage since 2007 will be a Test against Tonga in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday October 26.

That is followed by Tests against New Zealand on each of the next two Saturdays, t Auckland’s Eden Park on November 2, and Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on November 9, before Great Britain conclude the tour against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on November 16.

The GB elite performance squad is: Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers, community club West Bowling), Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Lions), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons, Wigan St Patricks), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors), Jake Connor (Hull FC, Siddal), Jamie Shaul (Hull FC, Skirlaugh), Scott Taylor (Hull FC, Skirlaugh), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders), Stevie Ward (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors), Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James), Tommy Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes), Mark Percival (St Helens, Halton Farnworth Hornets), James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook), Luke Thompson (St Helens, Bold Miners), Alex Walmsley (St Helens, Dewsbury Celtic), Morgan Knowles (St Helens - Wales), Lachlan Coote (St Helens - Scotland), Josh Jones (Salford Red Devils, Blackbrook Royals), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity, Ideal Isberg), Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves, Doonside Roos), Josh Charnley (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks), Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves, Fryston Warriors), Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Springs Lions), Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves, Golborne Parkside), Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves, Culcheth Eagles), Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks), Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks), George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)