Wakefield loose forward Joe Westerman and Warrington half-back Gareth Widdop have been recalled to Shaun Wane’s England squad preparing for the end-of-season World Cup.
Westerman won his only previous cap against Samoa in 2014 but has been in outstanding form for his club this year, as has 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’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.
Wane said: “I watch every Super League game, every week, and the door is always open to players who are performing.
“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.
Wane will next Wednesday 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 Rugby Football League 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 outbreaks at others.
England squad: J Bateman (Wigan), T Burgess (South Sydney), D Clark, M Cooper, B Currie (all Warrington), T Davies (Catalans Dragons), N Evalds (Castleford), L Farrell (Wigan), L Gale (Leeds), O Gildart (Wigan), J Griffin (Hull FC), A Handley (Leeds), Z Hardaker (Wigan), J Hodgson (Canberra), T Johnstone (Wakefield), T King (Warrington), M Knowles (St Helens), R Lyne (Wakefield), J Lomax (St Helens), J McGillvary (Huddersfield), P McShane (Castleford), T Makinson (St Helens), D Manfredi (Wigan), H Newman (Leeds), M Percival (St Helens), J Philbin, S Ratchford (both Warrington), J Roby (St Helens), D Sarginson (Salford), R Sutton (Canberra), L Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Tomkins (Catalans Dragons), A Walmsley (St Helens), K Watkins (Salford), J Westerman (Wakefield), E Whitehead (Canberra), G Widdop (Warrington), G Williams (unattached).