England coach Steve McNamara has named his squad for this autumn’s International Series against France and New Zealand.
The 24-man squad will be captained by Wigan Warriors Sean O’Loughlin, and includes 16 survivors from last year’s Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
McNamara has 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, First Utility Super League young player of the year. Castleford Tigers half-back Luke Gale and leading try-scorer in Super League Jermaine McGillvary, from the Huddersfield Giants, are rewarded after a strong season in the domestic campaign. NRL based forward Mike Cooper, who toured with the national side last year, is included but has yet to be capped.
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 George Burgess, St Helens’ Alex Walmsley, Leeds’s Stevie Ward, Brisbane Broncos Jack Reed, Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford and Wigan’s Joel Tomkins – have not been considered because of upcoming surgery during the close season.
England coach, Steve McNamara, said: “We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places.
“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.
“We are fully aware that we will need to work exceptionally hard and play to a very high level to win the tournament. Our aim is to win our first home series against southern hemisphere opposition since Great Britain defeated New Zealand in 2007.”
England will be based throughout the tournament at the Football Association’s St George’s Park training facility in Burton-upon-Trent.
England’s international schedule kicks off at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday October 24 (2.00pm) with a match against France.
The three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1 (5.00pm) moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm). The series concludes at the DW Stadium, Wigan on Saturday November 14 (1.00pm).
All of England’s matches against New Zealand will be shown live on the BBC.
England squad for the 2015 International Series (professional club and community club shown):
John Bateman, Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill
Joe Burgess, Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge
Thomas Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor
Mike Cooper, St George Illawarra Dragons, Latchford Albion
Leroy Cudjoe, Newsome Panthers, Huddersfield Giants
Ben Currie, Warrington Wolves, Golborne Parkside
Liam Farrell, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Brett Ferres, Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers
Luke Gale, Castleford Tigers, Middleton Marauders
James Graham, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook
Ryan Hall, Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders
Zak Hardaker, Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions
Chris Hill, Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions
Josh Hodgson, Canberra Raiders, East Hull
Jermaine McGillvary, Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors
Sean O’Loughlin (captain), Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
James Roby, St Helens, Blackbrook
Matty Smith, Wigan Warriors, Blackbrook
Sam Tomkins, New Zealand Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Kallum Watkins, Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion
Ben Westwood, Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights
Elliot Whitehead, Catalans Dragons, West Bowling
Gareth Widdop, St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross
George Williams, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks