With the World Cup only 9 months away, England head coach Wayne Bennett has named a strong Super League based 31-man elite squad, that will meet up regularly over the coming season. With Bennett overseeing things in Australia, the squad will meet up monthly under the guidance of assistant coaches Paul Anderson and Paul Sculthorpe.
One surprise inclusion to the squad is Castleford Tigers’ young centre Mike McMeeken. The 22-year-old, joined Castleford from championship side London 2 years ago, and has flourished under Tigers’ boss Daryl Powell. Also in the squad is reigning Man of Steel Danny Houghton, who missed out on a place in Bennett’s 4 Nations squad last year. He is joined by Hull team mates Jamie Shaul and Scott Taylor.
There are recalls for former Man of Steel Zak Hardacker, his Castleford team mate Micheal Shenton and St Helens hooker James Roby.
England's 31-man elite performance squad:
L Gale, Z Hardaker, M McMeeken, M Shenton (all Castleford), L Cudjoe, J McGillvary (Huddersfield), D Houghton, S Taylor, J Shaul (Hull FC), B Ferres, R Hall, S Ward, K Watkins (Leeds), K Amor, J Greenwood, J Lomax, M Percival, J Roby, M Smith (St Helens), K Brown, D Clark, M Cooper, B Currie, C Hill, S Ratchford (Warrington), J Bateman (Wigan), J Burgess, L Farrell, S O'Loughlin, S Tomkins, G Williams (Wigan)