England have named a 19-man squad for Saturday’s game against the New Zealand Maori at Mount Smart, Auckland.
The squad features four players who featured in the 2010 Grand Final - Sam Tomkins, Joel Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin of Engage Super League champions Wigan Warriors and St Helens hooker James Roby - and the three English players drawn from NRL clubs - Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers), Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm) and Sam Burgess (South Sydney).
England coach Steve McNamara said that it had a been a tough decision to omit five of his 24-man squad for a game designed to help the tourists hone their preparations for the Four Nations.
“We were hoping to be able to play more than 17 players in this game because all 24 are desperate to play but unfortunately it wasn;t meant to be,” said McNamara.
“We have seven very, very good players not playing this week but they’re all pushing hard and putting pressure on the players who are playing for selection next week when the Four Nation starts.
“I’m pleased with the mix of players we have in the 19, there’s a great blend of established internationals and players with a lot of talent who are looking to prove themselves at this level.”
McNamara said preparations for Saturday’s game had gone well with his squad emerging from their final training session at Mount Smart earlier today in ebullient mood.
“We’re just where we need to be,” he said. “Our preparations have been calculated to get us to where we are just now and we go into the game in good spirits and good form.
“We have made a conscious decision not to select a couple of players: Stuart Fielden because he has only just arrived in New Zealand and James Graham because we feel he needs more time to get over what was an arduous season for him at St Helens.
“He’s fit and could play but it’s in his best interests to sit out the game tomorrow so that he’s fresh for the Four Nations.”
New Zealand Maori v England will be screen live in the UK on Sky Sports 1 from 5.15am on Saturday (October 16).
Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm)
Tom Briscoe (Hull FC)
Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers)
Ryan Atkins (Warrington Wolves)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos)
Kevin Brown (Huddersfield Giants)
Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
Adrian Morley (Warrington Wolves (capt)
James Roby (St Helens)
Darrell Griffin (Huddersfield Giants)
Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers)
Sam Burgess (South Sydney)
Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)
Luke Robinson (Huddersfield Giants)
Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield Giants)
Joel Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves)
Ben Harrison (Warrington Wolves)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants)