Four Castleford Tigers players have been included in a 30-man England Performance Squad that has been announced today.
Half-back Jake Trueman and prop Liam Watts have been included for the first time along with the currently injured scrum-half Luke Gale and loose forward Adam Milner, who made his England debut last autumn.
Warrington and St Helens each have six players in the squad, but Castleford’s impressive early-season form in the Betfred Super League has also been recognised with the inclusion of the four players - although once again there is no place for hooker Paul McShane, who has been the club's most consistent performer, and is in second place in the man of Steel voting.
The EPS will meet for the first time in 2019 in late April, when they will be joined by the Knights Performance Squad, which is to be named tomorrow (Tuesday).
There is no mid-season international this year, but Wayne Bennett, the England and Great Britain coach, will attend the second 2019 EPS meeting in June.
There are further meetings in August and September ahead of selection for the Great Britain Rugby League Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea this autumn, and England’s participation in the World Cup Nines in Sydney.
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.
“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.
“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.”
England Rugby League Elite Performance Squad in full:
Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers, Middleton Marauders)
Adam Milner (Castleford Tigers, Stanley Rangers)
Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers, West Bowling)
Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Lions)
Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons, Wigan St Patricks)
Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors)
Jake Connor (Hull FC, Siddal)
Jamie Shaul (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
Scott Taylor (Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
Robbie Mulhern (Hull KR, Normanton Knights)
Stevie Ward (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James)
Tommy Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes)
Mark Percival (St Helens, Halton Farnworth Hornets)
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)
Luke Thompson (St Helens, Bold Miners)
Alex Walmsley (St Helens, Dewsbury Celtic)
Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity, Stanningley)
Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity, Ideal Isberg)
Josh Charnley (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves, Fryston Warriors)
Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves, Golborne Parkside)
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Springs Lions)
Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves, Golborne Parkside)
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks)
Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Joe Greenwood (Wigan Warriors, Saddleworth Rangers)
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)