England squad named for NZ series
England coach Steve McNamara has named his squad the International Series against France and New Zealand.
The 24-man squad will be captained by Sean O’Loughlin and includes 16 players from the 2014 Four Nations tournament.
McNamara selected seven uncapped players with four that featured in England’s Academy tour of Australia in 2012 - Warrington Wolves forward Ben Currie, Wigan Warriors trio John Bateman, Joe Burgess and George Williams, Castleford Tigers halfback Luke Gale and leading try-scorer in Super League Jermaine McGillvary, from the Huddersfield Giants.
St Helens hooker James Roby, Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe and Warrington’s Ben Westwood all return after missing selection 12 months ago through injury.
Meanwhile, six players – South Sydney Rabbitohs forward George Burgess, St Helens’ Alex Walmsley, Leeds’s Stevie Ward, Brisbane Broncos outside back Jack Reed, Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford and Wigan’s Joel Tomkins – have not been considered because of upcoming surgery during the off season.
"We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for place," England coach Steve McNamara said.
"There is a tremendous challenge in front of us against the best Rugby League nation in the world. New Zealand will be formidable opponents.
“There is a strong core of players that have come through the England system over recent years and have the desire, appetite and quality to do English Rugby League proud in this tournament."
The three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1, moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7. The series concludes at the DW Stadium, Wigan on Saturday November 14.
England squad for the 2015 International Series:
John Bateman, Wigan Warriors
Joe Burgess, Wigan Warriors
Thomas Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs
Mike Cooper, St George Illawarra Dragons
Leroy Cudjoe, Huddersfield Giants
Ben Currie, Warrington Wolves
Liam Farrell, Wigan Warriors
Brett Ferres, Huddersfield Giants
Luke Gale, Castleford Tigers
James Graham, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Ryan Hall, Leeds Rhinos
Zak Hardaker, Leeds Rhinos
Chris Hill, Warrington Wolves
Josh Hodgson, Canberra Raiders
Jermaine McGillvary, Huddersfield Giants
Sean O’Loughlin (captain), Wigan Warriors
James Roby, St Helens
Matty Smith, Wigan Warriors
Sam Tomkins, New Zealand Warriors
Kallum Watkins, Leeds Rhinos
Ben Westwood, Warrington Wolves
Elliot Whitehead, Catalans Dragons
Gareth Widdop, St George Illawarra Dragons
George Williams, Wigan Warriors