GEORGE Williams received the perfect pick-me-up from his Grand Final heartache after being named in the England squad.
Less than a week after being crowned Super League’s young player of the year, he was named in the 24-man panel to face France and New Zealand this autumn.
I think George’s performances have spoken for themselvesSean O’Loughlin
Uncapped Wigan stars Joe Burgess and John Bateman were also informed they
had been selected, just hours after their 22-20 loss to Leeds in the title-decider at Old Trafford.
“If someone had said at the start of the year I’d get into the England squad, I would have laughed at them,” said Williams.
“I wouldn’t have believed them at all. But I’m pleased with my season. To play for England would be a huge honour. I just wanted to be consistent for Wigan and make a name for myself.
“I’m proud that I think I’ve done that. It’s just a shame we didn’t get the win (at Old Trafford).”
Wigan players Sean O’Loughlin, Matty Smith and Liam Farrell - who played in last year’s Four Nations - have also been included, but there was no place for hooker Micky McIlorum.
Forward Joel Tomkins was not considered because he needs post-season surgery, but brother Sam – returning to Wigan for 2016 – features in Steve McNamara’s squad.
O’Loughlin will again captain the national team and would love to see Williams get his chance.
“I think George’s performances have spoken for themselves,” he said.
“He’s been fantastic for us this year, and deservedly won the Young Player of the Year accolade. “He’s only a young kid but I’d love to see him in an England shirt.
“It’s always nice when there’s a few Wiganers in the squad as well.”
A Test against France at Leigh on October 24 is followed by a three Test series against injury-hit New Zealand on consecutive weekends from November 1, finishing with a Test at Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday, November 14.
Bateman, a former England academy captain, added: “It would be massive to play for England - especially after what happened in the Grand Final.”
John Bateman, Joe Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Mike Cooper, Leroy Cudjoe, Ben Currie, Liam Farrell, Brett Ferres, Luke Gale, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker, Chris Hill, Warrington Wolves, Josh Hodgson,Jermaine McGillvary, Sean O’Loughlin (captain), James Roby, Matty Smith,Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins,Ben Westwood,Elliot Whitehead,Gareth Widdop,George Williams.