Four Wigan Warriors players included in 30-man England squad

Four Wigan Warriors players have been named in a 30-man England performance squad named today.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:26 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 11:39 am
George Williams has retained his place

Oliver Gildart, Joe Greenwood, George Williams and Sean O'Loughlin - who all played a part in the series win against New Zealand last autumn - are included in the panel, which is drawn from Super League.

Elsewhere, Warrington team-mates Josh Charnley and Jack Hughes - both former Warriors - are two of the eye-catching inclusions.

Charnley, who won eight England caps from 2012-14 and played in the 2013 World Cup, is selected for the first time since his return from rugby union last March after scoring 31 tries in 34 appearances for the Wolves.

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Hughes has been rewarded for his leadership on the England Knights tour of Papua New Guinea last autumn from which Hull KR prop Robbie Mulhern is also promoted.

St Helens and Warrington, first and second in Super League, each have six players in the squad, while Castleford's impressive early-season form has also been recognised with the inclusion of four.

Stand-off Jake Trueman, the 20-year-old reigning Super League young player of the year, and uncapped prop Liam Watts join Castleford scrum-half Luke Gale, who is currently sidelined with an Achilles injury, and loose forward Adam Milner in Bennett's Super League-based squad.

Ben Currie, Kallum Watkins and Alex Walmsley are also named after recovering from long-term injuries that ruled them out of last autumn's Test series victory over New Zealand.

"Jack Hughes is one of a few players who have come up into the EPS from the Knights squads that were picked last year, which is good to see," said Bennett, who will also take charge of the reformed Great Britain team.

"When you think of the number of guys who are playing in the NRL so weren't considered for this squad, it's a good pool of players we're building up - both for the Great Britain tour this autumn and looking further ahead towards the 2021 World Cup."

Mike Cooper (Warrington) and Mike McMeeken (Castleford) have been axed from the EPS Bennett named last July while John Bateman and Ryan Hall automatically drop out after moving to the NRL.

Sam Tomkins, who left Wigan for Catalans at the end of last season, has retained his place.

The EPS will meet up in late April, when they will be joined by the Knights performance squad which will be named on Tuesday.

There is no mid-season international but Bennett, who now coaches South Sydney, will fly over for the second meeting in June.

There will be further get-togethers in August and September ahead of the League Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea this autumn and England's participation in the World Cup Nines in Sydney on October 18-19.

Bennett said: "Even in a year when we don't have a mid-season game, it's important for us to name this squad - and also the Knights squad - early in the season.

"We had a good year in 2018 with four wins out of five, three of them against the Kiwis, and I know the guys will be looking forward to getting together again in April - and I'm looking forward to getting across there in June."

England elite performance squad: L Gale, A Milner, J Trueman, L Watts (all Castleford), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), J McGillvary (Huddersfield), J Connor, J Shaul, S Taylor (all Hull FC), R Mulhern (Hull KR), S Ward, K Watkins (both Leeds), J Lomax, T Makinson, M Percival, J Roby, L Thompson, A Walmsley (all St Helens), T Johnstone, R Lyne (both Wakefield), J Charnley, D Clark, B Currie, C Hill, J Hughes, S Ratchford (all Warrington), O Gildart, J Greenwood, S O'Loughlin, G Williams (all Wigan).