WAYNE BENNETT is in town this week, flying over from Australia to have his first meeting with prospective England players.
Everyone is keen to see who he will select. Will this be a brave new era with bold choices or will the esteemed coaching guru stick largely with the squad that Steve McNamara used for the Test series win over New Zealand last autumn?
Admittedly, there was plenty to like about that group of players who will be augmented come the Four Nations by the returning South Sydney duo Sam Burgess and George Burgess, plus Sam Tomkins to name just three.
When the Super League-based players under Bennett’s consideration gather in Leeds on Monday, it will more than likely be just a familiarisation process more than anything else.
And of course, there is no guarantee that being there necessarily means they will then be in the Australian’s squad come the tournament that kicks-off on October
But it will certainly act as both reward and an incentive for some players to maintain their current fine form.
I understand at least four uncapped players who weren’t involved in the Kiwis squad will attend the get-together – Hull FC prop Scott Taylor, St Helens front-row Kyle Amor, Wigan Warriors winger Dom Manfredi and, perhaps more surprisingly, Saints second-row Joe Greenwood.
There can be no doubting Taylor’s call is merited; he has been the form prop in Super League this term, proving so influential in Hull’s rise to prominence.
He did, let’s not forget, have a brief involvement with his country back in 2012 while still a raw Hull KR front-row and before his big-money move to Wigan.
However, that sole appearance was against the Exiles and, therefore, does not count as a Test.
Since then, Taylor has improved markedly, even thriving when loaned to Salford last term after strangely losing his spot with Wigan.
But it is since joining boyhood heroes Hull this time around that the hard-running, offloading 25-year-old has discovered career-best form.
Granted, it will be difficult for Taylor to break into Bennett’s final plans.
With those Burgesses plus brother Tom, James Graham and Chris Hill, England are not short of fine props and that’s before even mentioning Mike Cooper, Alex Walmsley and Taylor’s Hull team-mate Liam Watts.
Former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield forward Amor, too, deserves recognition for his best displays to date.
Some would argue Catalans’ Jodie Broughton should be looked at before Manfredi but the Wigan man’s 77 tackle busts is more than twice that of the former Huddersfield winger so that attribute probably has him in front.
Regardless, it is hard to imagine Bennett not going with Ryan Hall – if fit – and Jermaine McGillvary when it comes to the crunch.
As for Greenwood, the big Saints forward has shown he is potent having scored nine Super League tries in a struggling side.
But, again, the competition in that position is fierce with Warrington’s Ben Currie surely set to win his first cap having been unused in that squad for the Kiwis and the likes of Brett Ferres, Elliott Whitehead, John Bateman – for now, at least – and Liam Farrell all firmly established.
Bennett may use this opportunity to mainly witness how players react in a squad environment. Nevertheless, with Castleford’s in-form scrum-half Luke Gale present, too, he will be pleased to see so much talent in one room.