LEEDS RHINOS will be without centre Kallum Watkins for the first time in more than a year when they travel to Catalans Dragons next month.
The Betfred Super League game on Saturday, May 6, coincides with England’s mid-season Test against Samoa in Sydney, Australia.
Watkins has been named in coach Wayne Bennett’s 20-man squad, alongside teammate Ryan Hall.
When he was given a breather in last Friday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Doncaster it was the first time he had been off the field during a Rhinos game since the start of 2016.
“It has been a long run for me,” Watkins said.
“It has been a while since I missed a competitive game so it will be interesting not playing for Leeds that week.
“But playing for England is something special that you always dream of doing.
“I am always proud and honoured to be part of that and I feel quite fortunate to be there, so I’ve got to make the most of it.”
Castleford Tigers’ former Leeds duo Zak Hardaker and Luke Gale are also in the squad along with uncapped teammate Mike McMeeken.
Watkins said: “It is good to see Mike McMeeken in there; it is a massive opportunity for him and he has definitely earned it.
“The past couple of seasons at Cas he has really performed well and got himself in the frame. I’m pleased for him and for Zak as well. It is good to see him come into form and getting back on the international stage.”
England squad: Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Thomas Burgess (South Sydney), Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers), James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos), Zak Hardaker (Castleford), Chris Heighington (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks), Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves), Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Mike McMeeken (Castleford), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors), Mark Percival (St Helens), Scott Taylor (Hull), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Kallum Watkins (Leeds), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), Gareth Widdop (St. George Illawarra Dragons), George Williams (Wigan Warriors).