International RL: England boss Bennett picks only four from the Grand Final
LEEDS RHINOS' Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins will be joined by Castleford Tigers duo Luke Gale and Mike McMeeken when England fly to Australia to begin their World Cup preparations in two days' time.
Stevie Ward, who played the full 80 minutes of Leeds Rhinos’ 24-6 Betfred Super League Grand Final win over Castleford on Saturday, just eight days after suffering a dislocated shoulder, is not selected in England coach Wayne Bennett’s 24-man squad.
There was disappointment for Tigers winger Greg Eden, centre Michael Shenton and hooker Paul McShane who will not make the trip despite being included in the England elite performance squad which was named in May.
Tigers full-back Zak Hardaker misses out after being provisionally suspended from the sport following a failed drugs test.
Players from the Grand Finalists, who finished in the top-two on the league table, will be outnumbered by four from ninth-placed Warrington Wolves.
There are three inclusions from fifth-placed Wigan Warriors, though full-back Sam Tomkins has been left out.
St Helens, who were fourth, provide four, including Dewsbury Celtic product Alex Walmsley.
He is one of two uncapped players in the squad, alongside Warrington’s Ben Currie.
Seven of the group, including former Dewsbury Moor juniors Sam and Tom Burgess, play for clubs in Australia’s NRL.
England will face Affiliated States in a warm-up game in Perth on Friday, October 20.
They take on Australia in the tournament’s opening game, at AAMI Park, Melbourne, on Friday, October 27 and meet Lebanon a week later, at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium, before completing their group campaign against France at nib Stadium Perth, on Saturday, November 4.
The England squad is: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Kevin Brown (Warrington Wolves), Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tom Burgess (South Sydney), Ben Currie (Warrington), Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers), James Graham (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos), Chris Heighington (Cronulla Sharks), Chris Hill (Warrington), Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Mike McMeeken (Castleford), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan), Mark Percival (St Helens), Stefan Ratchford (Warrington), James Roby (St Helens), Scott Taylor (Hull), Kallum Watkins (Leeds), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra), Gareth Widdop (St George), George Williams (Wigan).