THE usually unflappable Liam Farrell was caught off guard when he received a shock call-up into the England squad.
Steve McNamara drafted the Wigan forward into the national set-up after Warrington backrower Ben Westwood was ruled out with groin and knee problems.
It takes the number of Warriors players in the England set-up to seven along with Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, Lee Mossop, Mike McIlorum, Gareth Hock and Sean O’Loughlin.
They are now in camp in Leeds and will fly out to South Africa on Wednesday for a 10-day training camp to prepare for a three nations autumn series involving Wales and France.
Farrell, who made his England debut this season against the Exiles in mid-season, said: “I was surprised to get the call.
“I wasn’t on stand-by or anything – Steve just phoned me up and told be Ben Westwood had been ruled out and would I like to be involved.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
Wolves’ Ben Harrison also got a call-up to help compensate for the withdrawal of Souths’ Sam Burgess and Warrington’s Ryan Atkins to injury.
Farrell’s England debut came in an experimental side missing several key players, but with a World Cup looming next season McNamara says this autumn series is vital to his preparations.
And Farrell said: “A lot of people were asking questions about how serious the Exiles game was taken, but this is completely different.
“To be honest, for me, it’s not even about playing – it’s great just to get the chance to train in South Africa alongside players of the calibre of Gareth Ellis, and I’ll take it from there.”