England coach Steve McNamara has announced a 24-man squad for England’s forthcoming high-altitude training camp to South Africa and the Autumn International Series against France and Wales commencing later this month.
Warrington Wolves prop Chris Hill earns his first ever call-up to the senior squad after impressing in his first full season in the Super League. He is one of 12 players named in the squad that will feature in this Saturday’s showpiece Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford including seven players from Leeds Rhinos – Carl Ablett, Rob Burrow, Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Kevin Sinfield and Kallum Watkins – and five representatives from Warrington – Hill, Ryan Atkins, Adrian Morley, Richard Myler and Ben Westwood.
Two NRL based players will have their first taste of representative competition in 2012 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs prop James Graham is joined by South Sydney Rabbitohs Sam Burgess, who returns to the international set-up for the first time since 2010.
“One player who has impressed me throughout the Super League season is Warrington’s Chris Hill and deserves his call-up to the senior squad,” said McNamara. “I want to see how he, along with the other young players, adapts to the rigors of international competition. It will be great for their development to be training and playing alongside the likes of Sam Burgess and Kevin Sinfield.”
Melbourne Storm half-back Gareth Widdop, who played a pivotal role in his club’s Grand Final victory over Graham’s Bulldogs last Sunday, and Brisbane Broncos centre Jack Reed both miss out with shoulder injuries and will undergo surgery in the close season.
Other notable absentees include Huddersfield Giants prop Eorl Crabtree (shoulder), St Helens forward Jon Wilkin (shoulder and elbow) and Hull FC’s Danny Tickle (bicep). Stelens dynamic hooker James Roby is rested alongside Leeds half-back Danny McGuire.
“This year’s international programme, including our camp to South Africa, is all about fine tuning our preparations ahead of the Rugby League World Cup in just over a year’s time,” added McNamara.
“The Autumn Internationals will be a tough test against two nations (France and Wales) who are making good progress. Like us, they will use this tournament as preparation ahead of the World Cup. We want to make sure we play to our very best and win well.”
The 2012 Autumn International Series tournament schedule in full is as follows:
Sunday November 11 – Final (Salford City Stadium, 5.00pm).
Tickets for the 2012 Autumn International Series matches cost just £12 (adults) and £6 concessions) and are available to purchase from the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 8561113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk
The England squad for the 2012 Autumn International Series
Professional club and community club shown):
Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Parkside)
Ryan Atkins (Warrington Wolves, Stanningley)
Tom Briscoe (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers, Dannevirke Tigers)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
Gareth Ellis (Hull FC, Castleford Lock Lane)
James Graham (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Springs Lions)
Gareth Hock (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Judes)
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos, Stanningley)
Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors, Queens)
Adrian Morley (Warrington Wolves, Eccles)
Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors, Hensingham)
Richard Myler (Warrington Wolves, Halton West Bank)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)
Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton)