England coach Steve McNamara has named his squad for this autumn’s Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
The 24-man squad will be captained by Wigan Warriors Sean O’Loughlin, who replaces Leeds Rhinos Kevin Sinfield after his international retirement earlier this summer. The squad includes 13 survivors from last year’s Rugby League World Cup.
McNamara has drafted in nine uncapped players – Steve Prescott Man of Steel nominee Daryl Clark from Castleford Tigers, Catalans Dragons Elliott Whitehead, Joe Westerman from Hull FC, Josh Hodgson, who will be joining NRL side Canberra Raiders from Hull KR later in the year, St George Illawarra Dragons forward Mike Cooper, Warrington Wolves Stefan Ratchford and the Wigan trio of Joe Burgess, Dan Sarginson and Matty Smith.
Castleford centre Michael Shenton has profited from a strong season in the First Utility Super League with inclusion in the international set-up for the first time since October 2010 and Wigan’s Joel Tomkins, after returning to Rugby League this summer following a three-year stint in rugby union, is included alongside his brother Sam.
Wigan have the biggest representation with seven players. The other clubs represented are Catalans Dragons, Castleford Tigers, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, New Zealand Warriors, St George Illawarra Dragons, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Warrington Wolves.
Meanwhile, three players – St Helens James Roby, Wigan’s Michael McIlorum and Warrington’s Ben Westwood – have not been considered because of upcoming surgery at the end of the domestic season. Brisbane Broncos Jack Reed and Parramatta Eels Lee Mossop are not available due to having recent shoulder surgery respectively.
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. But ultimately we chose the players who will give us the best chance of winning a major tournament in Australasia for the first time since 1990, when Great Britain defeated New Zealand.
“We have a tremendous challenge in front of us but I know the players have the desire, appetite and quality to do English Rugby League proud in this tournament.
“Sean O’Loughlin is a great leader and has been left a positive legacy from Kevin (Sinfield). He is excited and honoured to be captaining the national set-up and will impose his experience and qualities on the rest of the group. In particular, his attention detail and work ethic will inspire the players both on and off the field.”
England captain, Sean O’Loughlin, added: “I’m very excited by this new challenge, it is a huge honour to be appointed captain of the national team and I am very much looking forward to leading the side in Australia and New Zealand over the coming weeks.
“We’ve got a number of leaders in the squad and I will work with them to ensure we are doing all we can to be successful on the international stage.
“It’s about going out there and leading from example. It’s an exciting time for England Rugby League.”
The European-based players will leave England on Tuesday October 14 en route to their pre-tournament camp on the Gold Coast, Queensland.
England start their Four Nations campaign on Saturday October 25 when they take on Samoa at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (7.00am BST).
Their other group matches are:
Australia v England, Sunday November 2 2014, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia (5.00am GMT)
New Zealand v England, Saturday November 8 2014, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand (7.00am GMT)
2014 Four Nations Final, Saturday November 15 2014, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand (7.45am GMT).
All of England’s matches will be shown live on BBC One.
The England squad for the 2014 Four Nations
(Professional club and community club shown):
George Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor
Joe Burgess, Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge
Tom Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor
Josh Charnley, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Daryl Clark, Castleford Tigers, Newsome Panthers
Mike Cooper, St George Illawarra Dragons, Latchford Albion
Liam Farrell, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Brett Ferres, Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers
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, Hull KR, East Hull
Sean O’Loughlin (captain), Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Stefan Ratchford, Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks
Dan Sarginson, Wigan Warriors, Hemel Stags
Michael Shenton, Castleford Tigers, Upton
Matty Smith, Wigan Warriors, Blackbrook
Joel Tomkins, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Sam Tomkins, New Zealand Warriors, Wigan St Patricks
Kallum Watkins, Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion
Joe Westerman, Hull FC, Featherstone Lions
Elliott Whitehead, Catalans Dragons, West Bowling
Gareth Widdop, St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross