Cudjoe and Ablett miss out on squad

Steve McNamara
Steve McNamara
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England coach Steve McNamara admits there was some “close calls” when deliberating his final 24-man squad for the Four Nations that starts later this month.

He has called up nine uncapped players ahead of the trip to Australia and New Zealand including Castleford Tigers hooker Daryl Clark and a surprise name in Hull FC loose forward Joe Westerman.

Some notable names will be left at home, such as Huddersfield Giants centre Leroy Cudjoe and Leeds Rhinos second-row Carl Ablett.

“We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places,” said McNamara.

“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.”

Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin, 31, succeeds Kevin Sinfield as captain after the Leeds player’s international retirement.

McNamara said: “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 to detail and work ethic will inspire the players both on and off the field.”

The loose forward said: “I’m very excited by this new challenge, it is a huge honour to be appointed captain of the national team.

“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.”