England coach Wayne Bennett has named his first squad for this autumn’s Ladbrokes Four Nations and the upcoming International Test against France.
The 24-man squad includes 15 players from last year’s International Series win against the ranked No.1 team in the world, New Zealand.
Bennett has selected four uncapped players – St Helens duo Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival. Hull FC and Ladbrokes Challenge Cup winner Scott Taylor and Castleford Tigers half-back Luke Gale who toured with the national side last year, but has yet to be capped.
Warrington Wolves’ Daryl Clark and Stefan Ratchford, South Sydney Rabbitohs forward George Burgess, Wigan Warriors centre Dan Sarginson and Widnes Vikings’ Kevin Brown all return to the national side after missing selection in previous years.
South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Sam Burgess also returns to the squad three years after last appearing for England in the 2013 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Four players – Wigan Warriors’ Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Tomkins, Dom Manfredi and Warrington’s Ben Currie – have not been considered because of injury.
England coach, Wayne Bennett, said: “There’s been a lot of competition for places this year and the players that have been picked are the ones we believe will stand up to the test of the competing nations.
“I’ve always said that there wouldn’t be too many changes when I arrived and there are plenty of guys in the squad who worked hard in last year’s International Series win against New Zealand who have gone on and performed in 2016.
“To have Sam Burgess back is not just a boost for England but one for the international game. Having worked with him in the past, he’s a great bloke to have around and have by your shoulder on the field.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game and to lose players like O’Loughlin, Tomkins and Currie isn’t ideal but it does offer opportunities to others who have performed in the year and it’s good to see some new and returning faces in the squad.
“There’s some serious talent in this English side and that’s testament to the England programme, the clubs they play for and the player’s attitude in wanting to do their best each week. I’ve spoken to the boys and they’re well aware what’s ahead of them in this tournament.”
Squad: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors); Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings); George Burgess; Sam Burgess; Thomas Burgess (all South Sydney Rabbitohs); Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves); Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves/St George-Illwarra Dragons); Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors); Brett Ferres (Leeds Rhinos); Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers); James Graham (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs); Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos); Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves); Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders); Jonny Lomax (St Helens); Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants); Mark Percival (St Helens); Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves); Dan Sarginson (Wigan Warriors/Gold Coast Titans); Scott Taylor (Hull FC); Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos); Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders); Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons); George Williams (Wigan Warriors).