Tom Johnstone has been named in England’s Elite Performance Squad that will regularly meet throughout the season.
The 21-man squad includes a first call up for Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone and a return to the squad for Leeds Rhinos back-rower Stevie Ward, Warrington Wolves hooker Daryl Clark and St Helens winger Tommy Makinson.
Ward, Clark and Makinson all return to the EPS having missed out on selection for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup squad.
England coach Wayne Bennett said: “The Elite Performance Squad session in 2017 provided invaluable for the players in the build-up to the World Cup and it’s important that we do all we can to enable them to spend quality time together in an international environment.
“The 21-man EPS includes a mixture of experienced international players from the 2017 World Cup squad, returning players and a new inclusion with Tom Johnstone.
“It’s important for us to focus on the Test matches this year but also keep in mind the 2021 World Cup too and the return of the England Knights Performance Squad ensures that we give players valuable time in an international set up. It is a very positive step for England Rugby League and all 46 players across both squads have the opportunity to impress my coaching staff in the coming months.
“The mid-season test in Denver is a great opportunity to test ourselves against strong opposition and whilst those selected for both performance squads have put themselves in a good place to be considered for selection, we are always looking at all players in both the Super League and NRL and the door is never shut on any player who impresses.”
England’s Elite Performance Squad:
Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers)
Mike McMeeken (Castleford Tigers)
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants)
Scott Taylor (Hull FC)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos)
Stevie Ward (Leeds Rhinos)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens)
Tommy Makinson (St Helens)
Mark Percival (St Helens)
James Roby (St Helens)
Alex Walmsley (St Helens)
Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity)
Kevin Brown (Warrington Wolves)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)
Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves)
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors)
Thoughts on the EPS? Let us know in the comments below.