HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS have seen four players added to the England Knights Performance Squad for the first time.
Kruise Leeming featured on last year’s Papua New Guinea tour but the hooker is now joined by prop Matty English, second-row Oliver Roberts – who played for Ireland in the 2017 World Cup – hooker Adam O’Brien and full-back Darnell McIntosh.
Knights coach Paul Anderson has named a 34-man squad with Castleford Tigers back-row Alex Foster and Leeds Rhinos’ loose forward Cameron Smith among the other fresh call-ups.
Wigan Warriors have a trio of new additions in wingers Dom Manfredi and Liam Marshall plus Blackpool-born former Barrow Raiders forward Joe Bullock.
Hull FC duo Dean Hadley and Masi Matongo retain their places but Brad Fash misses out while Hull KR’s Chris Atkin and Wakefield Trinity’s James Batchelor also feature having headed out on tour last autumn.
“We think this is an exciting group of players, all of whom know from their selection that they are very much in the thoughts of the England coaches,” said Anderson.
“Involvement in the Knights set-up gives them the chance to impress, as has been shown by the England debuts made by so many players from the KPS last year, and the inclusion in this year’s England Performance Squad of Robbie Mulhern and our 2018 captain Jack Hughes.
“The trip to Papua New Guinea last year was such a memorable trip for all of us but also a massive benefit both physically and mentally as we develop elite level players for future tournaments, building towards the 2021 and 2025 World Cups.”
The KPS will join the 30-man England Performance Squad at their first get-together next month and hold other meetings and training sessions in the remainder of the year.
At least one home fixture is being planned for this autumn, when the GB squad are on tour.
England Knights performance squad: Foster, Holmes, Minikin (all Castleford Tigers), Whitley (Catalans Dragons), English, Leeming, McIntosh, O’Brien, Roberts (all Huddersfield Giants), Atkin (Hull KR), Hadley, Matongo (Hull FC), Handley, Oledzki, Smith, Sutcliffe, Walker (Leeds), Evalds, Jones (Salford), Ashworth, Lees, Richardson (St Helens), Batchelor (Wakefield), King, Lineham, Livett, Patton, Philbin, Walker (all Warrington), Bullock, Davies, Marshall, Manfredi Powell (all Wigan).