Nine uncapped players for England

England head coach Steve McNamaraEngland head coach Steve McNamara
England head coach Steve McNamara
HULL FC loose forward Joe Westerman and Hull KR hooker Josh Hodgson are two of nine uncapped players called up by England coach Steve McNamara for the Four Nations.

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 group includes just 13 survivors from last year’s Rugby League World Cup with the biggest surprise perhaps being the omission of Huddersfield Giants centre Leroy Cudjoe - an ever-present in that tournament - and Leeds’ Super League Dream Team second-row Carl Ablett.

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The form of centre Cudjoe has been relatively inconsistent this term, however, and McNamara has plumped for Wigan Warriors tyro Dan Sarginson, who has thrived in his first season since leaving London Broncos, and, as expected Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton who is recalled for the first time since 2010 and joined by club-mate Daryl Clark.

Just three months after re-joining Wigan from Saracens, Joel Tomkins is back in England colours for the first time since 2011 - probably at Ablett’s expense - while, along with Clark, Westerman, Hodgson and Sarginson, the other newcomers are Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons), Mike Cooper (St George Ilawarra), Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves), young Wigan flier Joe Burgess and Warriors scrum-half Matty Smith.

Leeds Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker is recalled after being sent home from the World Cup due to disciplinary problems while Burgess twins George and Tom were named just minutes after helping South Sydney to a famous 30-6 NRL Grand Final win over Canterbury Bulldogs.

Brother Sam Burgess won man-of-the-match in his final game before joining Bath rugby union - despite breaking his cheekbone in the first tackle of the game following a collision with James Graham, the England prop who is included in McNamara’s squad.

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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.

With first-choice hookers Roby and McIlorum both out, Steve Prescott Man of Steel candidate Clark, the brilliant 21-year-old, looks certain to be heavily involved and likewise Hodgson who has now swapped east Hull for Canberra Raiders in the NRL.

Brisbane Broncos Jack Reed and Parramatta Eels Lee Mossop are not available due to having recent shoulder surgery respectively while Leeds duo Rob Burrow and Tom Briscoe are not retained from the World Cup squad.

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

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“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.”

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.

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“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 week 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 (7am BST).

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Their other group matches are versus Australia in Melbourne on Sunday November 2 (5am GMT) and against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday November 8 (7am GMT).

The Four Nations Final is on Saturday November 15 in Wellington, New Zealand (7.45am GMT).

The England squad for the 2014 Four Nations: G Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Joe Burgess, Wigan Warriors, T Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Josh Charnley, Wigan Warriors,Daryl Clark, Castleford Tigers, Mike Cooper, St George Illawarra Dragons, Liam Farrell, Wigan Warriors, Brett Ferres, Huddersfield Giants James Graham, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Ryan Hall, Leeds Rhinos, Zak Hardaker, Leeds Rhinos, Chris Hill, Warrington Wolves, Josh Hodgson, Hull KR, Sean O’Loughlin (captain), Wigan Warriors, Stefan Ratchford, Warrington Wolves, Dan Sarginson, Wigan Warriors, Michael Shenton, Castleford Tigers, Matty Smith, Wigan Warriors, Joel Tomkins, Wigan Warriors, Sam Tomkins, New Zealand Warriors, Kallum Watkins, Leeds Rhinos, Joe Westerman, Hull FC, Elliott Whitehead, Catalans Dragons, Gareth Widdop, St George Illawarra Dragons.