Joe Westerman and Gareth Widdop have been recalled to Shaun Wane’s England squad preparing for the end-of-season Rugby League World Cup.
Wakefield Trinity back row Westerman won his only previous cap against Samoa in 2014 but has been in outstanding form for his club this year, as has Warrington Wolves half-back Widdop, who was an England regular under previous coaches Steve McNamara and Wayne Bennett.
The 31-year-old Westerman’s case was pressed by his coach Chris Chester when Wane visited the Wakefield club this week.
“Joe is playing the best rugby I’ve seen from him for a long time,” Chester said.
Westerman’s Wakefield team-mate Reece Lyne also gets a call-up, along with Catalans Dragons’ former Wigan winger Tom Davies as Wane expands his elite training squad to 38.
There is, however, no recall for Hull FC’s versatile back Jake Connor, who is also in good form but facing stiff competition for the full-back role from Sam Tomkins and Zak Hardaker.
“I watch every Super League game, every week, and the door is always open to players who are performing,” Wane said.
I watch every Super League game, every week, and the door is always open to players who are performing.
England head coach Shaun Wane
“I’ve been impressed in recent weeks by what I’ve seen from these four players and the data we have on them backs that up. They are consistently hitting the performance levels required at the highest level.”
Hull centre Josh Griffin keeps his place in the squad, even though he is unlikely to be available after undergoing surgery this week for a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Next Wednesday, Wane will announce his squad for England’s match against the Combined Nations All Stars on Friday, June 25 at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Meanwhile, the RFL has cancelled Monday’s scheduled training session at Headingley due to the volume of injuries at some clubs and the prevailing uncertainty caused by Covid-19 outbreaks at others.
England squad: John Bateman, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Tom Davies, Niall Evalds, Liam Farrell, Luke Gale, Oliver Gildart, Josh Griffin, Ash Handley, Zak Hardaker, Josh Hodgson, Tom Johnstone, Toby King, Morgan Knowles, Reece Lyne, Jonny Lomax, Jermaine McGillvary, Paul McShane, Tommy Makinson, Dom Manfredi, Harry Newman, Mark Percival, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, James Roby, Dan Sarginson, Ryan Sutton, Luke Thompson, Sam Tomkins, Alex Walmsley, Kallum Watkins, Joe Westerman, Elliot Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams.
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