The highly-regarded Wakefield winger has stiff competition on the flanks, with the inclusion of both Jermaine McGillvary and Ryan Hall putting paid to his chances of a call-up. But Johnstone continues to improve as the weeks progress – and given his form in comparison to the other two wingers, Johnstone may think he is a tad unfortunate to miss out.
Zak Hardaker looks certain to play full-back in Sydney next week – but the in-form Salford man Gareth O’Brien has not been too far behind him in the form stakes. Since moving from Warrington at the end of 2015, O’Brien has made the number one shirt his own at Salford – and despite not making England’s ETS squad or this 20-man group for Samoa, his time looks increasingly likely to come in the near future.
Given how he wasn’t only in the ETS squad but magnificent form at club level for Warrington, the omission of former Man of Steel Daryl Clark is one that stands out. The hooker will surely get his chance at the World Cup this autumn if he keeps up his current level of performances, though.
The inclusion of Australia-born forwards Chris McQueen and Chris Heighington has certainly got people talking – and McQueen’s Gold Coast team-mate Joe Greenwood may well feel unlucky to have missed out. He’s settled into life in the NRL well, and on this form, will be a good shout for a place in the World Cup squad.
Shenton is undoubtedly a victim of the three player per club ruling enforced on this squad – had that not been in place, he would have surely been in contention. The Castleford captain has been superb throughout 2017 thus far – and he will be in contention for the World Cup this autumn irrespective of missing out for this Samoa game.