SEAN O’Loughlin remains in contention to become the new England captain despite being sidelined for next week’s second International Origin game against the Exiles.
The Wigan loose-forward – along with club-mate Sam Tomkins, Man of Steel Rangi Chase and Leeds pair Ryan Hall and Kevin Sinfield – have been stood down by Steve McNamara for next Wednesday’s Huddersfield encounter.
But McNamara has revealed the decision will have no bearing on O’Loughlin’s chances of succeeding Jamie Peacock as England skipper following the Leeds prop’s retirement from international football.
“I have a number of options in respect of the new captain for England and I’m in no hurry to make an announcement,” admitted McNamara.
“The captain I appoint for the Exiles game will be just for that game.
“I will keep an open mind and assess a number of factors before revealing who will take the team forward as our leader on the field.
“We have a number of strong candidates both here in the Super League and also from the England players playing in the NRL.”
McNamara was speaking after announcing five changes to his squad for next week’s clash, with Wigan-bound Matty Smith drafted in along with Stefan Ratchford, Jodie Broughton, Jonny Lomax and Danny Brough.
However, there was again no place for Darrell Goulding and Mike McIlorum.
Squad: Ablett, Atkins, Briscoe, Brough, Broughton, Burrow, Carvell, Charnley, Crabtree, Cudjoe, Hock, Jones-Buchanan, Lomax, Mossop, Ratchford, Roby, Smith, Tickle, Wilkin.
BEN Flower returns to the Wigan squad for Friday’s visit of Bradford in place of Paul Prescott (ankle).