England have named a 19-man squad for this Saturday’s international against France at Leigh Sports Village, Leigh (2pm).
Coach Steve McNamara has picked four uncapped players, including Wigan Warriors trio John Bateman, Joe Burgess and George Williams and one-time Castleford loan player Mike Cooper - but there is no place for Tigers half-back Luke gale.
Full-back Sam Tomkins misses the game after failing to fully recover from a knee injury that has kept him out of action since he last played for the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL on August 30.
The 26-year-old, who has re-joined Wigan Warriors for the 2016 Super League season, is expected to be fit for the first of three internationals against New Zealand at Hull’s KC Stadium starting on Sunday, November 1, but faces competition from former Featherstone Rovers player Zak Hardaker, with the 2016 Man of Steel set to take the full-back spot against France.
Elsewhere in the team, Huddersfield’s former Cas forward Brett Ferres is included.
“The players have trained well all week and we are ready to take on France,” said McNamara.
“We have healthy competition for places across all areas. The players are aware of this and continue to put in the effort in training to make sure they are prepared and ready for what should be a thrilling game.
“We’ve had a very good few weeks since meeting up with the squad, and we’ve prepared well at the magnificent facilities at St George’s Park in Burton.
“I’m sure this match will produce some difficult moments for us and we’ve got to be strong and ensure we come out on top.
“We know what this French side is capable of. They’re a very passionate team on the pitch and have plenty of talent in their group. There’s a fair bit of knowledge within our squad as to what they will bring, with a lot of their players having featured in Super League the last few seasons.”
The England 19-man squad to face France is (professional club and community club in brackets):
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill)
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge)
Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Mike Cooper (St George Illawarra Dragons, Latchford Albion)
Leroy Cudjoe (Newsome Panthers, Huddersfield Giants)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)
James Graham (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)
Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders, East Hull)
Sean O’Loughlin, captain (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)
Elliott Whitehead (Catalans Dragons, West Bowling)
Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Tickets for England v France at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday October 24 (2pm) cost from £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £22.50 for a family ticket. Please visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113.