Roby recalled by England as Hardaker misses out

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James Roby has been recalled to the England side for the Rugby League World Cup as Zak Hardaker misses out after testing positive for a banned substance.

St Helens hooker and two-time Super League champion Roby, who represented England at the 2008 and 2013 editions of the competition, returns to the fold after an absence of almost two years.

However, Hardaker has not been considered for selection in the 24-man squad after it was announced on Monday he failed a drugs test after a Super 8s match between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos in September.

The Castleford full-back missed Saturday's Grand Final defeat to the Rhinos as a result.

Sean O'Loughlin will captain the side, while 2017 Man of Steel Luke Gale and Dally M Half-Back of the Year Gareth Widdop are included.

However, there is no place for Greg Eden despite a sensational 38-try Super League season for the Tigers nor Sam Tomkins after another injury-plagued year.

Ben Currie and Alex Walmsley, the top metre-maker in Super League, are the only uncapped players selected by head coach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett said: "Selecting the final 24 with the help of my coaching staff was tough and that was down to the effort and performances of many players throughout the season.

"The competitiveness of Super League and NRL and knowing the goal of playing for your country in a World Cup has made many raise their game and become better athletes.

"This is shaping up to be a very competitive tournament. Squads are being confirmed now and it's clear to see the spread of talent will add to some exciting games."

England will take on an Affiliated States side in Perth on October 20 before beginning their campaign against reigning champions Australia seven days later, with group matches against Lebanon and France to follow.

 

England squad: John Bateman, Kevin Brown, Sam Burgess, Tom Burgess, Ben Currie, Luke Gale, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Heighington, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Jermaine McGillvary, Mike McMeeken, Sean O'Loughlin, Mark Percival, Stefan Ratchford, James Roby, Scott Taylor, Alex Walmsley, Kallum Watkins, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams.