World Cup places are still up for grabs insists England coach Shaun Wane

THERE WERE some notable omissions when England coach Shaun Wane named his latest squad yesterday, but he insists places at this autumn’s World Cup remain up for grabs.

Wane, appointed more than a year ago, will meet his players in person for the first time when England train in Leeds next Tuesday.

That will mark the start of preparations for a mid-season game against Combined Nations All Stars, at Warrington in June.

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Thirty-five players have been invited to the session, at Leeds Beckett University, but Castleford’s Jake Trueman and Liam Watts are among the absentees, along with Jake Connor of Hull.

England coach Shaun Wane says places are still up for grabs ahead of the Rugby League World Cup. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

The squad announcement came 200 days before England open the men’s tournament against Samoa at Newcastle’s St James’s Park on Saturday, October 23.

Wane is adamant there will be changes before his final World Cup squad is named and stressed the most in-form players will be selected, regardless of age or reputation.

The former Wigan Warriors coach described stand-off Trueman’s performances in Tigers’ two Super League games this year as “impressive” and said the front-row, where Watts plays, is an area he would like more strength in depth.

“I left Liam Watts and [Warrington Wolves’] Chris Hill out in November,” said Wane.

Castleford Tigers half-back, Jake Trueman. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

“They are both fantastic players, they both played well at the weekend. I would imagine they will both come back in.

“I just need to see improvement in certain parts of their game.”

Connor has made a strong start to the season in the full-back role for Hull, but is not yet Wane’s top choice for England.

Wane revealed Catalans Dragons’ Sam Tomkins would be his No 1 if the tournament began this weekend, but stressed Connor, who can also operate at centre or stand-off, could yet play himself into contention.

Hull FC full-back, Jake Connor. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“It is looking like [Connor’s best position is] full-back,” said the England coach. “He just needs to be involved more.

“He does some really good things; he is a great talent, but there’s things in his game he needs to get rid of as well.

“He is a player I am watching and I think he is a very, very good full-back.”

Hull KR are the only Yorkshire club without a player in Wane’s latest squad. Their 33-year-old former Leeds winger Ryan Hall has been a fixture in the Test team for more than a decade and scored a hat-trick on debut for the East Yorkshire club last month, following two seasons in the NRL with Sydney Roosters.

Hull KR winger, Ryan Hall. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

St Helens’ Tommy Makinson and Tom Johnstone, of Wakefield Trinity, would appear to be the leading wing contenders for the World Cup, but Wane revealed there could still be life in Hall’s international career. He said: “He is a great player, he has been around, he knows the game and his form has been great.

“You can see from his stats that Ryan Hall is killing it.

“If he is our best winger, no question, then he is in.”

Wane added: “The message to the players has been really simple - if you want to play in the World Cup, perform, get up to our standard and I will pick you.

“When we play our first game, against Samoa, it will be the best 17 we’ve got.”

One thing not on the coach’s agenda is selecting players out of position.

That was a criticism levelled at his predecessor Wayne Bennett, but Wayne said: “I’m not that way inclined, unless I really have to.

“I think at international level I like to pick players in their best position.

“If we have a few injuries at the time of the Samoa game, or any game in the World Cup, I will do that, but I like playing players in their position.”

NRL-based players will not attend next week’s get-together.

Wane confirmed he will be monitoring the former of Sydney Roosters’ 18-year-old half-back Sam Walker, who was born in Leeds during his father Ben’s spell as a player with Rhinos.

Meanwhile, Wane has confirmed he is keen for a return to club coaching after this year’s tournament.

Castleford are searching for a new coach following Daryl Powell’s decision to quit at the end of the season, but Wane said he is not looking that far ahead.

“The only thing I am thinking about, genuinely, is the World Cup,” he stressed.

The England squad in full is: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington Wolves), Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers), Herbie Farnworth (Brisbane Broncos), Liam Farrell (Wigan), Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos), Oliver Gildart (Wigan), Josh Griffin (Hull FC), Ash Handley (Leeds), Zak Hardaker (Wigan), Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders), Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), Toby King (Warrington), Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax (both St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Paul McShane (Castleford), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Dom Manfredi (Wigan), Harry Newman (Leeds), Mark Percival (St Helens), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington), James Roby (St Helens), Dan Sarginson (Salford Red Devils), Ryan Sutton (Canberra), Luke Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Kallum Watkins (Salford), Elliott Whitehead, George Williams (both Canberra).

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