England name Elite Training Squad

England coach Tony Smith has named an initial 17-man Elite Training Squad ahead of next month’s international match with France in Paris.

Nine of the group featured in last year’s World Cup in Australia and include captain Jamie Peacock, Man of Steel James Graham and Warrington captain Adrian Morley.

Wakefield centre Ryan Atkins and Hull’s Tom Briscoe are new faces on the international scene, while young stars Richard Myler, Joe Westerman, Michael Shenton and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook also make the cut.

Tony Smith said: “The first group of players to be included in the Elite Training Squad programme are a mixture of youth and experience from a number of different clubs.  I believe the players selected so far reflects that not only are we planning for this autumn’s Four Nations tournament but also the 2013 World Cup which we hope to stage in this country.

“More players will be added to the programme throughout the season and the aim is to provide an elite training environment for a wide range of players from a variety of different clubs who, in turn, will benefit from their players being involved.

“Although only 17 players have been named so far, by no means does it guarantee their place in the mid-season Test against France or the upcoming Four Nations.  As always the playing squads will be picked on form which means the door is still wide open to all players with international aspirations.”

The players will benefit from access to world leading facilities, individualised player development plans and improved sports science throughout the season.

The most notable absentee is Leon Pryce, but the list will be added to ahead of England‘s game with France on June 13.

17-man squad: Ryan Atkins (Wakefield), Tom Briscoe (Hull), Sam Burgess (Bradford), Rob Burrow (Leeds), Maurie Fa’asavalu (St Helens), James Graham (St Helens), Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Harlequins), Danny McGuire (Leeds), Adrian Morley (Warrington), Richard Myler (Salford), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan), Jamie Peacock (Leeds), James Roby (St Helens), Michael Shenton (Castleford), Joe Westerman (Castleford), Ben Westwood (Warrington), Jon Wilkin (St Helens).

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