England have named Castleford Tigers star Rangi Chase and Huddersfield Giants’ Castleford-born forward Brett Ferres in a 20-man squad for the International Origin match against the Exiles taking place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington on Friday, June 14 (8pm).
Chase retains his place in the international line-up while it is more of a surprise call-up for former Cas Tigers player Ferres, who has been in outstanding form this season in the Super League.
England coach Steve McNamara believes the 27-year-old back row deserves his call-up in the squad.
“Brett (Ferres) came very close to being selected in the initial ETS (Elite Training Squad) back in March,” said McNamara, who brings the former Smawthorne Panthers junior into the England set-up for the first time since 2011 when he was named in the Elite Training Squad that year.
“Brett has been in outstanding form throughout this campaign and I had no hesitation selecting him. We have always had players coming into form that have received international recognition in the past few years. We selected Warrington’s Chris Hill last autumn even though he hadn’t been in the ETS.
“I have always said that if players, who are not necessarily established in the England programme, are playing well they will be considered. Brett deserves his call up and I know he’ll do a job for us.”
The 20-man squad includes 15 players who were involved in the 2012 Autumn International Series final victory over France last November.
From the original ETS squad selected in March, 11 players have not made the squad including Hull FC’s Tom Briscoe, St Helens forward Jon Wilkin and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats winger Ben Cockayne.
A number of players, who would have been considered for selection, are forced to miss out through injury. Wigan Warriors hooker Michael McIllorum (knee), Hull FC’s Danny Tickle (knee) and the Rhinos trio of Carl Ablett (hand), Danny McGuire (ankle) and Kallum Watkins (ankle).
“We have been unfortunate with the injury list,” added McNamara.
“However there is continuity about the squad make-up. We will reward those players that have been part of the programme over the past couple of years. They continue to be the most consistent performers in the Super League each week, which is testament to their qualities as Rugby League players.
“It is important for the development of the national team that the core of the squad is used to playing with each other and is firmly ingrained in the overall England programme.
“Our philosophy has always been about creating a ‘two-team’ mentality within the national set-up, where we get buy in from every individual. This is now our biggest strength.
“The International Origin will be the perfect test for us. Since its inception two years ago, the matches have been intense affairs. The Exiles will want to upset our plans and our players know they will be in for an battle. It should be a cracker.”
The squad will meet up at their Loughborough base on Sunday night and McNamara will announce his team to face the Exiles on Wednesday, June 12.
The full squad is:
Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers, Dannervirke Tigers)
Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield Giants, Huddersfield YMCA)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
Gareth Ellis (Hull FC, Lock Lane)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos, Stanningley)
Adrian Morley (Warrington Wolves, Eccles)
Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors, Hensingham)
Richie Myler (Warrington Wolves, Halton West Bank)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Kevin Sinfield © (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)
Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton)