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Page last updated at 07:33 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 08:33 UK

Bridge given shock England call

Chris Bridge
Bridge was previously selected for the Ireland 2008 world Cup train-on squad

Warrington centre Chris Bridge is the surprise inclusion in Tony Smith's 24-man England squad for October and November's Four Nations series.

The 25-year-old centre or stand-off has switched allegiance from Ireland to represent England.

St Helens utility back Kyle Eastmond and Wigan stand-off Sam Tomkins, both 20, are also first-time inclusions.

Saints' Leon Pryce, Ade Gardner and Paul Wellens and Leeds' Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan are left out.

Smith has axed more than half his World Cup squad, with only 11 survivors remaining from the disappointing campaign in Australia last year.

"I think it's time to put some fresh faces in," explained Smith. "We've got some young people coming through and they deserve a chance.

"There is only one way to gain experience and that's by picking them. They have had tremendous years and deserve to be there.

He's very good with the ball and he's a big, strong young man and a dangerous player

England coach Tony Smith
on Chris Bridge

"We picked a lot of fresh faces for the mid-year game and it gave us a fresh feel and they responded well.

"This series is about now but it's also about the future and we want to build for the future. We feel that they're ready now."

In addition to Eastmond and Tomkins, Richie Myler, Scott Moore, Ryan Hall and Sam Burgess are all 21 or younger.

"It's great that we've got a bit of fresh blood there," said forward Adrian Morley, who at 32 is the elder statesman of the squad.

"Tony Smith has been pretty ruthless, with the backs in particular, but if you look at how they performed in the World Cup it's not a total shock or surprise. They'll admit themselves they didn't play particularly well."

Smith has included only nine players from Grand Finalists Leeds and St Helens in the squad, as opposed to 15 in the 24-strong party for England's World Cup campaign.

Bradford centre Paul Sykes, a survivor from the World Cup, returns to the squad, having being left out for the 58-6 mid-season international victory over France in Toulouse, as does Kevin Sinfield, who was man of the match in Leeds Rhinos' 18-10 Grand Final win over Saints.

Sinfield's Rhinos team-mate Lee Smith, who scored two tries in Leeds' win at Old Trafford and is switching codes with Wasps at the end of the Four Nations, is also included.

"He's contracted with rugby league until the end of November and made himself available so I'm more than happy to include him," added Smith.

"He adds a lot of versatility and depth to our outside backs. I was delighted when he made himself available because his form has been terrific."

Eastmond scored all 10 of Saints' points in the Grand Final at Old Trafford, while Tomkins was named this season's Super League young player of the year.

Eastmond is tipped to replace scrum-half Sean Long at St Helens but has impressed Smith in his displays at stand-off and centre.

"He has shown his versatility already," said Smith. "He is able to cover numerous positions and make a fist of each of them.

606: DEBATE
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He's a tremendous young player and a very exciting player who will add a lot of depth to our squad. He has had a big impact on Saints this year and I'm sure he'll have a big impact for England in this tournament as well."

Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, who recently underwent minor knee surgery, will sit out England's opening game against France on 23 October but is expected to be available for the match against Australia on 31 October.

Thirteen members of the Four Nations squad will play for England in Saturday's international against Wales, with the Leeds and St Helens contingent being given a week to recover from their exertions last Saturday.

Bridge, Warrington team-mate Liam Harrison, Hull winger Tom Briscoe and Salford utility back Stefan Ratchford are all expected to make their debut in the game in Bridgend.

Bridge could also be used in the centre after Smith ruled out a recall for Keith Senior, who had hinted at coming out of retirement to play for his country.

"Chris is one of the young guys that has been around for a while knocking on the door but hasn't quite knocked it down yet," said Smith.

"He has had a pretty solid year for his club and he's in a position that we're not particularly flush with players. He's very good with the ball and he's a big, strong young man and a dangerous player."

Bridge's club captain at Warrington is Morley, who is confident the 25-year-old will be a good addition to the squad.

"I've watched him all year and he's got massive talent," stated Morley. "He has great footwork, he's strong for a smaller guy and he's versatile as well.

"Tony has seen those qualities and he thinks he can do a job for England. Given a chance, I wouldn't be surprised if he has a big tournament."


Fixtures:

v Wales (Brewery Field, Bridgend) 17 Oct
v France (Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster) 23 Oct
v Australia (DW Stadium) 31 Oct
v New Zealand (Galpharm Stadium) 7 Nov


England squad for the Four Nations series:

Chris Bridge (Warrington), Shaun Briscoe (Hull KR), Sam Burgess (Bradford), Garreth Carvell (Warrington), Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield), Kyle Eastmond (St Helens), Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers), Peter Fox (Hull KR), James Graham (St Helens), Ryan Hall (Leeds), Danny McGuire (Leeds), Scott Moore (Huddersfield), Adrian Morley (Warrington), Richard Myler (Salford), Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan), Jamie Peacock (Leeds, capt), James Roby (St Helens), Michael Shenton (Castleford), Kevin Sinfield (Leeds), Lee Smith (Leeds), Paul Sykes (Bradford), Sam Tomkins (Wigan), Ben Westwood (Warrington), Jon Wilkin (St Helens).

England squad for the international against Wales:

Chris Bridge (Warrington), Tom Briscoe (Hull), Sam Burgess (Bradford), Garreth Carvell (Warrington), Tony Clubb (Harlequins), Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers), Peter Fox (Hull KR), Ben Harrison (Warrington), Mickey Higham (Warrington), Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Harlequins), Scott Moore (Huddersfield), Adrian Morley (Warrington), Richard Myler (Salford), Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan), Stefan Ratchford (Salford), Michael Shenton (Castleford), Paul Sykes (Bradford), Danny Tickle (Hull), Sam Tomkins (Wigan), Ben Westwood (Warrington).



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see also
Senior ponders England comeback
06 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Leeds 27-20 Catalans
02 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
St Helens 14-10 Wigan
03 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Hull KR 16-30 Wigan
26 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Huddersfield 6-16 Catalans
25 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Shenton included in England squad
17 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Atkins opts out of Four Nations
21 Sep 09 |  Wakefield
Super League strength helps Smith
16 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Goulding backing England victory
15 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
BBC to show England v Australia
06 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
France 12-66 England
13 Jun 09 |  Rugby League


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Yahoo! News Australia England shuffle squad - 27 hrs ago
Brisbane Courier-Mail Four Nations: England's veterans dumped - 32 hrs ago
Clubcall Warrington ace gets shock England call - 47 hrs ago
Wales Online Rugby League: England poised to blood new faces - 48 hrs ago
Nine MSN No mercy: England take axe to squad - 49 hrs ago


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