England coach Steve McNamara today named an exciting 32-strong Elite Training Squad that will form the nucleus of the national team between now and the Rugby League World Cup in 2013.Great news that ten of those named in the Elite and Knights squads are from the Warriors.
The squad includes 15 players who were involved in the 2010 Four Nations and six players who are uncapped by England, including Danny Brough, the Huddersfield Giants scrum-half who captained Scotland in the 2008 World Cup.
The ETS players will meet at regular intervals throughout the year for training and will receive targeted support from national coaches and performance experts in partnership with their Engage Super League clubs.
In addition, McNamara has revealed details of a new England Knights programme featuring 25 players from 11 Engage Super League clubs who will supplement the pool of players available to the national team and add valuable pressure for international selection among the sport's top stars.
"These are two very exciting squads whose participation in the programmes we are putting together will help us realise our ambition to win the Rugby League World Cup in 2013," said McNamara.
"There is a terrific blend of youth and experience in the ETS and I'm sure all the players involved, especially the younger element, will benefit from working alongside each other over the months and years to come.
"Both programmes are designed to create enhanced player development and while some players will not be involved in the World Cup come 2013, there are players in both squads who we fully expect will feature in that tournament and the World Cup in 2017."
The average age of the ETS is just 25.2 while the average of the Knights is 21.6.
Joining Brough in the ETS are St Helens stand-off Leon Pryce, Leeds Rhinos scrum-half Rob Burrow and Warrington Wolves half-back Richie Myler, who have been out of the international fold in recent years, and a group of exciting youngsters who have already begun to make names for themselves at club level.
They include young Leeds Rhinos full-back Ben Jones Bishop, Wigan Warriors prop Paul Prescott and 20-year-old Hull KR prop Liam Watts, who is joined by team-mate Kris Welham.
The youngsters in the England Knights are augmented by the presence of players with considerable experience, both at international level and club level, including Ryan Atkins of Warrington and Wigan's Darrell Goulding, two players who featured in Four Nations, a Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup final in 2010.
"Just as players such as Liam Watts and Paul Prescott will learn a lot from the likes of Adrian Morley and Jamie Peacock in the ETS, Ryan Atkins and Darrell Goulding can lend their experience to the Knights players," added McNamara.
The ETS and Knights will get together for the first time next week for the first of three two-day camps scheduled for 2011.
Negotiations are currently underway with possible international opposition for the Knights in 2011 whilst England are looking ahead to a home Four Nations involving Australia, New Zealand and Wales, as well as a mid-season international in June.
Full details of the England ETS and England Knights squads are below:
England Elite Training Squad
Chris Bridge, Ben Harrison, Adrian Morley, Richard Myler, Ben Westwood (all Warrington); Tom Briscoe (Hull FC); Peter Fox, Liam Watts, Kris Welham (all Hull KR); Rob Burrow, Ryan Hall, Ben Jones-Bishop, Danny McGuire, Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield (all Leeds Rhinos); Danny Brough, Eorl Crabtree, Leroy Cudjoe, Luke Robinson (all Huddersfield Giants); Michael McIlorum, Paul Prescott, Sam Tomkins, Joel Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin (all Wigan Warriors); James Graham, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Leon Pryce, James Roby, Michael Shenton, Jon Wilkin (all St Helens); Tony Clubb (Harlequins); Brett Ferres (Castleford Tigers).
Joe Arundel, John Walker (both Castleford Tigers); Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley (both Warrington Wolves); Jodie Broughton, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Smith (all Salford City Reds); Josh Charnley, Liam Farrell, Darrell Goulding, Stefan Marsh, Lee Mossop (all Wigan Warriors); Paul Clough, Jonathan Lomax, Scott Moore (all St Helens); James Donaldson, Elliott Whitehead (both Bradford Bulls); Dale Ferguson, Michael Lawrence, Jermaine McGilvray, Larne Patrick, Shaun Lunt (all Huddersfield Giants); Luke Gale (Harlequins), Kallum Watkins (Leeds); Joe Westerman (Hull FC).