McNamara reveals England squad
PUBLISHED: 15:59 14 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:59 14 October 2015
Coach excited about playing at Olympic Stadium
England coach Steve McNamara has named his squad for this autumn’s International Series against France and New Zealand.
The 24-man squad will be captained by Wigan Warriors Sean O’Loughlin, and includes 16 survivors from last year’s Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
England will play four matches in all and face New Zealand at The Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday, November 7 (2.30pm).
And McNamara said: “Taking on New Zealand in London provides us with the perfect opportunity to test ourselves against the top-ranked nation in the world.
“It is the first time that Rugby League has been played in the home of the 2012 Olympic Games, in London, which is a transformational move for our sport.
“The series is first time that England’s international team has played on home soil since the 2013 World Cup. This event is an opportunity for families to enjoy world-class Rugby League and recapture the atmosphere of some of Britain’s biggest events, including the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, London 2012 and the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup.”
McNamara has selected eight uncapped players with four that featured in England’s Academy tour of Australia in 2012 – Warrington Wolves forward Ben Currie, Wigan Warriors trio John Bateman, Joe Burgess and George Williams, First Utility Super League young player of the year.
Castleford Tigers half-back Luke Gale and leading try-scorer in Super League Jermaine McGillvary, from the Huddersfield Giants, are rewarded after a strong season in the domestic campaign and NRL-based forward Mike Cooper, who toured with the national side last year, is included but has yet to be capped.
St Helens hooker James Roby, Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe and Warrington’s Ben Westwood all return after missing selection 12 months ago through injury.
Meanwhile, six players – South Sydney Rabbitohs George Burgess, St Helens’ Alex Walmsley, Leeds’s Stevie Ward, Brisbane Broncos Jack Reed, Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford and Wigan’s Joel Tomkins – have not been considered because of upcoming surgery during the close season.
McNamara said: “We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places.
“There is a tremendous challenge in front of us against the best Rugby League nation in the world. New Zealand will be formidable opponents.
“There is a strong core of players that have come through the England system over recent years and have the desire, appetite and quality to do English Rugby League proud in this tournament.
“We are fully aware that we will need to work exceptionally hard and play to a very high level to win the tournament. Our aim is to win our first home series against southern hemisphere opposition since Great Britain defeated New Zealand in 2007.”
England will be based throughout the tournament at the Football Association’s St George’s Park training facility in Burton-upon-Trent.
The international schedule kicks off at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday, October 24 (2pm) with a match against France.
The three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday, November 1 (5pm), moving on to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and concluding at the DW Stadium, Wigan on November 14 (1pm).
Tickets for England v France at Leigh Sports Village cost from as little as £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £22.50 for a family ticket.
Tickets to the three-game New Zealand series cost from £22 for adults and £10 for concessions per game.
A three-match package costing just £45 for adults and £22.50 for concessions is also available.
To purchase tickets please visit rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113.
All of England’s matches against New Zealand will be shown live on the BBC.
England squad: John Bateman, Wigan Warriors; Joe Burgess, Wigan Warriors; Thomas Burgess, South Sydney Rabbitohs; Mike Cooper, St George Illawarra Dragons; Leroy Cudjoe, Newsome Panthers; Ben Currie, Warrington Wolves; Liam Farrell, Wigan Warriors; Brett Ferres, Huddersfield Giants; Luke Gale, Castleford Tigers; James Graham, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs; Ryan Hall, Leeds Rhinos; Zak Hardaker, Leeds Rhinos; Chris Hill, Warrington Wolves; Josh Hodgson, Canberra Raiders; Jermaine McGillvary, Huddersfield Giants; Sean O’Loughlin (captain), Wigan Warriors; James Roby, St Helens; Matty Smith, Wigan Warriors; Sam Tomkins, New Zealand Warriors; Kallum Watkins, Leeds Rhinos; Ben Westwood, Warrington Wolves; Elliot Whitehead, Catalans Dragons; Gareth Widdop, St George Illawarra Dragons; George Williams, Wigan Warriors.