Three Castleford Tigers players have been rewarded for their outstanding performances this season by being named in the England mid-season training squad.
Hooker Daryl Clark and prop Craig Huby have both been called up for the first time while Tigers skipper Michael Shenton returns to the England set up after a string of top class displays for the Tigers this season.
Former Cas players Brett Ferres and Joe Westerman and ex-Featherstone Lions juniors Zak Hardaker and Tom Briscoe are also in a 34-man squad that is beginning the build-up to this autumn’s Four Nations
A mid-season training camp will take place at Loughborough University from June 15-17 in preparation for the 2014 Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
The players are drawn from eight First Utility Super League clubs and comprises the nucleus of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup squad, with the addition of players from the England Knights programme.
McNamara will fly in from his home in Sydney to lead the camp, which he feels is an important part of the national team’s bid to taste international success Down Under this autumn.
“The camp is very important for us and I’m looking forward to working with all the players as a group again,” he said.
“We have made considerable progress over the last few years by getting together at specific stages of the year and this training camp allows us to build on that progress by spending valuable time together.
“It’s been a difficult process putting this squad together because of the sheer number of players who were in contention: there is an enormous amount of talent emerging through the ranks in Super League.
“Many of the players in the squad were with us for the World Cup and there are some great additions to the group who will benefit from being in a camp that will focus everyone’s minds on what we need to do to achieve international success.
“We have widened the net for this camp and the door remains open for every player in Super League: there are a lot of games remaining between now and the end of the season and a lot of opportunities for players to put themselves in contention for selection.”
Of the 34-man squad named today, 25 players will convene at Loughborough on Sunday June 15: the nine Wigan Warriors players are unavailable following the rescheduling of the First Utility Super League Round 2 fixture against Widnes Vikings, which will be played on Wednesday June 18.
The England mid-season training squad is as follows (professional and community clubs in brackets):
Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers, Fryston Warriors)
Craig Huby (Castleford Tigers, Pontefract Lions)
Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers, Upton & Frickley)
Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons, West Bowling)
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
Joe Westerman (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)
Josh Hodgson (Hull Kingston Rovers, East Hull)
Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Parkside)
Tom Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos, Stanningley)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James)
Tommy Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes)
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Alex Walmsley (St Helens, Dewsbury Celtic)
Kyle Amor (St Helens, Hensingham)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
Richard Myler (Warrington Wolves, West Bank Bears)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)
Chris Bridge (Warrington Wolves, Waterhead)
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill)
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge)
Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors, Queens)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Dan Sarginson (Wigan Warriors, Hemel Stags)
Scott Taylor (Wigan Warriors, Skirlaugh)
Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors, Blackbrook)