England squad: Kallum Watkins and James Roby picked by Shaun Wane

Kallum Watkins
Kallum Watkins last played international rugby league in the 2017 World Cup final against Australia

Salford Red Devils centre Kallum Watkins and St Helens veteran James Roby have been named in Shaun Wane's 35-man England squad, with the autumn World Cup in mind.

Watkins, 30, and Roby, 35, will re-join the group for an April training session, as Wane prepares for June's first game against Combined All Stars.

Uncapped Leeds centre Harry Newman is among the new faces, despite injury.

Champions St Helens have six call-ups, including prop Alex Walmsley.

The 2017 World Cup final was Watkins' last taste of international rugby league while Roby missed the Great Britain Lions tour in 2019 after having end-of-season surgery.

Among the other uncapped contingent are former Wales forward Morgan Knowles, Hull FC centre Josh Griffin, reigning Man of Steel Paul McShane from Castleford and his team-mate Niall Evalds.

There are seven Australia-based players, with Brisbane Broncos outside-back Herbie Farnworth - who hails from Lancashire but has made his name in the NRL - another new face to the international scene.

Although they will not be present for the training session, the selection of the NRL contingent - as with all the players in the group - is an indicator that Wane considers them in pole position at this stage of the year.

"I rate Harry Newman very highly; he's a good chance of playing in the World Cup. We've got real strength in depth at centre - and at hooker and wing too," Wane said.

"Names will come and go as the season unfolds, but the 35 players I've named reflect my current thinking. They are all capable of playing to an England standard. They know what's expected at international level and the heights they must hit.

"We have a good mix of youth and experience, and age is no barrier. The thirty-somethings in the squad are playing some good rugby. And if a 17-year-old puts his hand up and shows me he's got what it takes, he'll be in.

"I watch every Super League game, every week, multiple times and I'm seeing some good things so far from England players. I keep a very close eye on the NRL too. Those players can't join us, but I'll make sure they get the same information as the players who can.

"The session at Leeds is all about introducing players to my systems - how we'll defend, how we'll attack and so on. They are some of the best players around and they'll get it very quickly."

'England have strength in depth'

Analysis - Dave Woods, BBC Rugby League correspondent

The striking feature of the squad is its strength in depth, to a level that has not always been available to previous England coaches.

There are one or two omissions that will cause debate, not least those of Hull's Jake Connor and Castleford half Jake Trueman.

Connor has been in outstanding form in the opening two weeks of Super League, settling into his now permanent role of full-back.

And Trueman also looks like he's getting back to his best after shaking off the back injury that plagued him last year.

But Shaun Wane had to send out invites ahead of the second round of action, and so those who've hit form early will not yet have had chance to properly catch the coach's eye.

There is still a full season for the likes of Connor and Trueman and others to make their case. That includes Warrington pivot Gareth Widdop. A recovery of form after last year's disappointing campaign could yet see him recalled.

Some of those in the squad might still have something to prove. The outstanding Harry Newman clearly has a huge future in the game, but there has to be a question mark over how well the 21-year-old Leeds centre returns this term after last year's horrendous leg break.

There will be ins and outs in the months ahead. But the exciting aspect of today's squad announcement is that it sets up a genuine discussion about what the best choices and combinations will be when England kick-off their World Cup campaign in 200 days time against Samoa in Newcastle.

Full squad

John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington Wolves), Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers), Herbie Farnworth (Brisbane Broncos), Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos), Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors), Josh Griffin (Hull FC), Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos), Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors), Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders), Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), Toby King (Warrington Wolves), Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax (both St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Dom Manfredi (Wigan Warriors), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Mark Percival (St Helens), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington Wolves), James Roby (St Helens), Dan Sarginson (Salford Red Devils), Ryan Sutton (Canberra Raiders), Luke Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Kallum Watkins (Salford Red Devils), Elliott Whitehead, George Williams (both Canberra Raiders).

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the BBC footer - Sounds

Comments

Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.

178 comments

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC

Also in Sport

Featured