10th October 2016, 10:31 | englandrl
England coach Wayne Bennett has named his first squad for this autumn’s Ladbrokes Four Nations and the upcoming International Test against France.
The 24-man squad includes 15 players from last year’s International Series win against the ranked No.1 team in the world, New Zealand.
Bennett has selected four uncapped players – St Helens duo Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival. Hull FC and Ladbrokes Challenge Cup winner Scott Taylor and Castleford Tigers half-back Luke Gale who toured with the national side last year, but has yet to be capped.
Since returning from injury in April, Jonny Lomax has shone at fullback for St Helens.
Scott Taylor made the cut after an impressive season at Challenge Cup winners Hull FC.
Warrington Wolves’ Daryl Clark and Stefan Ratchford, South Sydney Rabbitohs forward George Burgess, Wigan Warriors centre Dan Sarginson and Widnes Vikings’ Kevin Brown all return to the national side after missing selection in previous years.
South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Sam Burgess also returns to the squad three years after last appearing for England in the 2013 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Four players – Wigan Warriors’ Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Tomkins, Dom Manfredi and Warrington’s Ben Currie - have not been considered because of injury.
Luke Gale finished the 2016 Super League season with an impressive 46 try assists.
Mark Percival is one of two St Helens players in the squad.
England coach, Wayne Bennett, said: “There’s been a lot of competition for places this year and the players that have been picked are the ones we believe will stand up to the test of the competing nations.
"I’ve always said that there wouldn’t be too many changes when I arrived and there are plenty of guys in the squad who worked hard in last year’s International Series win against New Zealand who have gone on and performed in 2016.
“To have Sam Burgess back is not just a boost for England but one for the international game. Having worked with him in the past, he’s a great bloke to have around and have by your shoulder on the field.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game and to lose players like O’Loughlin, Tomkins and Currie isn’t ideal but it does offer opportunities to others who have performed in the year and it’s good to see some new and returning faces in the squad.
“There’s some serious talent in this English side and that’s testament to the England programme, the clubs they play for and the player’s attitude in wanting to do their best each week. I’ve spoken to the boys and they’re well aware what’s ahead of them in this tournament.”
Sam Burgess is set to make his first England RL appearance since 2013.
Josh Hodgson is in Bennett's squad after a strong season with Canberra Raiders.
England’s international schedule kicks off at Parc des Sports, Avignon on Saturday, October 22 (6.30pm CET) with a Test Match against France.
The 2016 Ladbrokes Four Nations featuring England, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland starts on Friday, October 28 and more than 50 per cent of tickets are priced at £25 or less. Buy tickets here or call the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113 (calls to this number will cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.)
Full 2016 Ladbrokes Four Nations schedule is as follows:
Friday October 28 (8.00pm): Australia v Scotland, Lightstream Stadium, Hull
Saturday October 29 (2.30pm): England v New Zealand, The John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield
Saturday November 5 (5.30pm): England v Scotland, Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Saturday November 5 (8.00pm): New Zealand v Australia, Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Friday November 11 (8.00pm): New Zealand v Scotland, The Zebra Claims Stadium, Workington
Sunday November 13 (2.00pm): England v Australia, The London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
Sunday November 20 (2.30pm): Final, Anfield, Liverpool
All of England’s Ladbrokes Four Nations matches will be shown live on the BBC.
England squad for France Test and Ladbrokes Four Nations (Professional and community club shown):
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill)
Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings, Thatto Heath Crusaders)
George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves, Fryston Warriors)
Mike Cooper (Warrington Wolves/St George-Illwarra Dragons, Latchford Albion)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Brett Ferres (Leeds Rhinos, Smawthorne Panthers)
Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers, Middleton Marauders)
James Graham (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders, East Hull)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James)
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors)
Mark Percival (St Helens, Farnworth Rockets)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks)
Dan Sarginson (Wigan Warriors/Gold Coast Titans, Hemel Stags)
Scott Taylor (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Elliot Whitehead (Canberra Raiders, West Bowling)
Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)