HUDDERSFIELD Giants’ prolific winger Jermaine McGillvary and Castleford Tigers scrum-half Luke Gale are two of seven uncapped players called up by England for this autumn’s series against France and New Zealand.
The 24-man squad is captained by Wigan Warriors’ Sean O’Loughlin, and has 16 survivors from last year’s Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
Newcomers include the Wigan trio of former Bradford Bulls second-row John Bateman, Sydney Roosters-bound winger Joe Burgess and Super League Young Player of the Year George Williams, the stand-off.
NRL-based forward Mike Cooper, who toured with the national side last year but did not play, and Warrington Wolves forward Ben Currie are the others.
There is a recall for Huddersfield’s Leroy Cudjoe although fellow centre Michael Shenton from Castleford must be surprised to be left out after earning Dream Team status a second year running and Leeds Rhinos half-back Danny McGuire surely warranted another chance at this level, too.
St Helens hooker James Roby and Warrington’s Ben Westwood are back after missing the 2014 Four Nations through injury while six players – South Sydney Rabbitohs’ George Burgess, St Helens’ Alex Walmsley, Leeds’ Stevie Ward, Brisbane Broncos’ Jack Reed, Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford and Wigan’s Joel Tomkins - have not been considered due to injury or 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 at the Football Association’s St George’s Park training facility in Burton-upon-Trent.
Their international schedule kicks off with a match against France at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday October 24 (2pm).
The three-game series against the Kiwis starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1 (5pm) moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm) and concluding at Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday November 14 (1pm).
England squad: Bateman (Wigan), J Burgess (Wigan), T Burgess (South Sydney), Cooper (St George-Illawarra), Cudjoe (Huddersfield), Currie (Warrington), L Farrell (Wigan), Ferres (Huddersfield), Gale (Castleford), Graham (Canterbury), Hall (Leeds), Hardaker (Leeds), Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), McGillvary (Huddersfield), O’Loughlin (Wigan), Roby (St Helens), M Smith (Wigan), Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors), Watkins (Leeds), Westwood (Warrington), Whitehead (Catalans), Widdop (St George-Illawarra), Williams (Wigan).