England coach Wayne Bennet has named a few surprises in his squad for this weekend’s first test against a new look Kiwi side at Hull FC’s KCOM Stadium.
The most obvious absentee is Warrington full back and this years Harry Sunderland winner Stefan Ratchford, who started in the number 1 shirt last time the teams meet during the mid-season test in Denver which England won 36-18.
The person thought to have taken Ratchford’s shirt is his opposite number from the Grand Final Wigan Warriors Sam Tomkins, who ends a four year exile from the national squad as he looks to add to his 23 England caps, the last of which was against New Zealand in 2014.
from the side that faced New Zealand in June, Ratchford isn’t the only one to miss out as Bennett has named 11 from the 17 that beat the Kiwi’s in the summer, some of the changes are enforced due to injury to the likes of Gareth Widdop, Sam Burgess, Ryan Hall and James Roby being the most notable.
Hull FC’s Utility back Jake Connor and St Helens wing man Tommy Makinson (pictured) both keep their places in the squad after making try scoring debut’s earlier this year, While Roby’s absence see’s the return of Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson and after making his coming back to the international squad against France last week, Leeds Rhino’s Ritchie Myler has also kept his place in the squad.
The only uncapped player named is Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart, who could line up in the centres along side another young centre Mark Percival from St Helens, although Bennet has used Canberra Raiders bound back rower John Bateman in the centres during last years World cup, including the final.
The other players that may feel unlucky to miss out are Wakefield duo Tom Johnstone and Reece Lyne along with back row forwards Adam Milner of Castleford and Wigan’s Joe Greenwood. Off all four it’s Tom Johnstone who could feel the hardest done to after scoring a hat trick and being named man of the match on his international debut in the 44-6 win over France last week
Following on from this weekend’s first test, England will take on New Zealand at Anfield next Sunday, with the final meeting at Leeds’s Elland road ground the following weekend.
England 19-man squad:
John Bateman, George Burgess, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Jake Connor, Oliver Gildart, James Graham, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Jermaine McGillvary, Richie Myler, Sean O'Loughlin, Mark Percival, Luke Thompson, Sam Tomkins, Elliott Whitehead, George Williams.