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Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 15:33 UK

Gareth Widdop called into England squad

Gareth Widdop
Widdop is one of three uncapped players in the squad

Melbourne Storm full-back Gareth Widdop has received a surprise call-up into new England coach Steve McNamara's 19-man squad for the match against France.

Widdop, 21, is one of three uncapped players named in McNamara's first selection for the game on 12 June.

The 19 will go into camp on Monday to begin preparations for the France game, before the end-of-season Four Nations series in New Zealand and Australia.

"The squad has a blend of experience and potential," said McNamara.

Widdop, whose father Gary played for Keighley, will be one of three players flying over from Australia for the mid-season international - South Sydney's former Bradford forward Sam Burgess and Wests Tigers second rower Gareth Ellis are the others.

The Melbourne Storm player has been preferred to Hull KR full-back Shaun Briscoe, one of three players dropped from England's Four Nations final team.


Hull KR winger Peter Fox and Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree are the others left out, along with St Helens back rower Jon Wilkin, who is injured.

Their places go to Hull winger Tom Briscoe, who earns a recall, Bradford front rower Nick Scruton and Wigan second rower Joel Tomkins, who are both expected to win their first caps.

There are also recalls for Wigan loose forward Sean O'Loughlin, who missed both the 2008 World Cup and the 2009 Four Nations series through injury, and Leeds stand-off Danny McGuire.

Tomkins' selection alongside his younger brother Sam, the Wigan stand-off, could see siblings play alongside each other in the national team for the first time since 1989, when Paul and David Hulme, of Widnes, lined up for Great Britain against New Zealand at Wigan.

"The new players we have brought in have a lot to add. Joel Tomkins, like his brother Sam, is an excellent competitor with a first-class approach who has been in top form all year and deserves his place," added McNamara.

"Nick Scruton's inclusion is reward for 12 months of very consistent, explosive form for Bradford and Gareth Widdop is a player who really excites me.

"I have done a lot of research on Gareth, who is already a very good player with the potential to be an outstanding one.

"His first-team appearances have been limited at Melbourne due to being second choice behind the world's number one full-back Billy Slater, but I feel that this is the perfect opportunity and timing to take a closer look at an already very exciting young talent.

"With Gareth, as with many players in this squad, we have one eye on the here and now and one eye on the future and our ambitions to win the Rugby League World Cup in 2013."

The 19-man England squad for the international against France at Leigh Sports Village:

C Bridge (Warrington), T Briscoe (Hull), S Burgess (South Sydney), K Eastmond (St Helens), G Ellis (Wests Tigers), J Graham (St Helens), R Hall (Leeds), S O'Loughlin (Wigan), D McGuire (Leeds), A Morley (Warrington), J Peacock (Leeds), J Roby (St Helens), N Scruton (Bradford), M Shenton (Castleford), K Sinfield (Leeds), J Tomkins (Wigan), S Tomkins (Wigan), B Westwood (Warrington), G Widdop (Melbourne).

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see also
Burgess freed for England match
19 May 10 |  Rugby League
McNamara lands England coach post
21 Apr 10 |  Rugby League
Coaches insist England are united
17 Nov 09 |  English
Briton Widdop makes Storm squad
15 Feb 10 |  Rugby League
RFL confirm full-time coach role
30 Nov 09 |  Rugby League

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