Five notable omissions from England’s train-on squads

The RFL revealed the two England Performance Squads on Wednesday and there were a number of surprises.

Tom Johnstone earned a well-deserved call-up to the senior squad while London Broncos’ James Cunningham was a shock inclusion in the Knights set-up.

But on the contrary, there were some notable absentees. Here are five of the most high-profile omissions from either train-on squad

Matty Ashurst


The Wakefield back-row earned major praise for his performances last season, to the point that some even touted him for a shock England call-up.

But despite his ultra-consistent performances, the phone-call never came, and perhaps surprisingly, he didn’t get the nod for either of the training squads either.

It’s a harsh call on the back-rower, who many believe deserved his shot at international level.

Danny Houghton

If ever there was evidence that Danny Houghton won’t get an England call-up, this is it.

The hooker has been overlooked again, with younger hookers such as Kruise Leeming and James Cunningham getting the nod instead.

It appears the selections are done with 2021 in mind, but as a result, it now appears Houghton will never represent his country, something many believe is incredibly harsh.

Paul McShane

Much of the above also can be said of McShane, who seemingly is not in or around England’s plans.

After such an exceptional season last year, the former Wakefield and Leeds ace will seemingly spend the rest of his career focused on domestic rugby.

But England’s loss will be Castleford’s gain.

Michael Shenton

There’s no place for the Cas captain either, who seemingly won’t play any part in Wayne Bennett’s plans moving forward.

Shenton was not included in the World Cup squad, to the surprise of many, and now is way down the pecking order with the likes of Oliver Gildart in the Knights squad.

After last year’s performances it seems a tough call, but with 2021 in mind – Shenton will be 35 by then, it perhaps explains his exclusion.

Sam Tomkins

Perhaps the most perplexing of all is Tomkins’ omission.

Yes, Tomkins will be 32 by then, but to not be included at all has caught many out by surprise.

But why has he been overlooked? It seems a strange call given his ability to play in a variety of positions, perhaps his versatility has been his downfall. If he continues his transition into halves, maybe England believe they have better options. By 2021, is Jack Walker likely to have surpassed him at fullback, along with several others?

Either way, for a man of Tomkins’ ability to not be included at all seems odd.