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Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 14:57 UK

Pryce not included in elite squad

Leon Pryce in action for St Helens
Stand-off Pryce is an established England international

St Helens stand-off Leon Pryce is one of several big names omitted from England's 17-man elite training squad.

Nine of the 17 played in the 2008 World Cup but Pryce has missed out along with the likes of his Saints team-mate Paul Wellens and Leeds star Kevin Sinfield.

Several young Super League players such as Wakefield's Ryan Atkins and Hull FC's Tom Briscoe have been included.

England coach Tony Smith expects to add to the 17 through the season as he looks develop an elite group.

But Smith said that the initial group of 17 would not necessarily feature in the squad for the mid-season fixture against France on 13 June or the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.

I thought I would miss out because of getting injured

Hull FC winger Tom Briscoe

"As always, the playing squads will be picked on form, which means the door is still wide open to all players with international aspirations," said Smith.

Black and Whites winger Briscoe, 19, is currently sidelined with an ankle injury and is not expected to return to action until August.

"This news was a massive surprise for me," said Briscoe.

"I thought I would miss out because of getting injured. I must have done well enough in the first part of the season to impress Tony.

"At the moment I am just kicking my heels because I cannot do any training and have to stay off my ankle."

But Hull KR coach Justin Morgan expressed his disappointment that winger Peter Fox and full-back Shaun Briscoe were not among the 17.

"As far as I'm concerned, they are the form players in their positions," said Morgan.

"I don't know what more they have to do to get selected. They hope they will be added to the squad at a later date but that's like they are there as an after-thought."

England skipper Jamie Peacock is included in the 17 as well as veteran forward Adrian Morley, 32, and Man of Steel James Graham.

Harlequins' Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Salford's Richard Myler both made their England debuts against Wales last season and are named in the 17, along with highly rated Castleford duo Michael Shenton and Joe Westerman.

Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin and Bradford's Sam Burgess, who both missed last season's disappointing World Cup campaign through injury, have also been selected.


However, there is no specialist full-back named in the initial squad.

There are seven players from Leeds and Saints in the 17, whereas 15 of the 24-man World Cup squad came from those two clubs.

Centre Keith Senior, who has since retired from international rugby, had suggested a "big divide" between players from the two arch-rivals had contributed to England's poor showing.

Smith said: "The first group of players to be included in the elite training squad programme are a mixture of youth and experience from a number of different clubs.

"I believe the players selected so far reflects that not only are we planning for this autumn's Four Nations tournament but also the 2013 World Cup, which we hope to stage in this country."

The selected players will be given individual player development plans, as well as access to top-quality facilities and sports science.

The elite squad forms part of the Rugby Football League's seven-part plan to improve the prospects of success at international level following a review of the World Cup campaign.

The RFL is also set to appoint an elite training squad manager in the next two weeks.

The 17 will also form part of a national registered testing pool of players that the RFL has had to nominate under new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.

England Elite Performance Squad: Ryan Atkins (Wakefield), Tom Briscoe (Hull), Sam Burgess (Bradford), Rob Burrow (Leeds), Maurie Fa'asavalu (St Helens), James Graham (St Helens), Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Harlequins), Danny McGuire (Leeds), Adrian Morley (Warrington), Richard Myler (Salford), Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan), Jamie Peacock (Leeds), James Roby (St Helens), Michael Shenton (Castleford), Joe Westerman (Castleford), Ben Westwood (Warrington), Jon Wilkin (St Helens).

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see also
England to introduce elite squad
08 Apr 09 |  Rugby League
Rejuvenated Smith seeks redemption
13 Mar 09 |  Rugby League
Smith makes surprise Wolves move
05 Mar 09 |  Warrington
We let country down - Calderwood
13 Jan 09 |  Rugby League
'Outstanding' Smith stays - Lewis
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
New Zealand 32-22 England
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Australia 52-4 England
02 Nov 08 |  Rugby League

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