Tony Smith, the England coach, has named three teenagers, including Hull's Tom Briscoe, in the elite training squad around which the preparations for the next World Cup in 2013 will be based. Eight of the 17 initially announced were not at last year's tournament, with the 19-year-old Briscoe the most eye-catching inclusion after a mere handful of first-team-games.
Although he has played on the wing for his club so far, Briscoe is big and strong enough to looks best suited to centre. He played in last year's Challenge Cup final defeat to St Helens, fitting his training around his A-Levels, but damaged his ankle at Wembley, an injury which has recurred this season.
Salford's Richard Myler is also in the squad and is a year younger, but has looked an accomplished scrum-half in his first year in Super League. At 19, Joe Westerman is already an established player at that level for Castleford, but his career has been interrupted recently by a head injury. Ryan Atkins, Michael Shenton and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook are other newcomers in the squad, while Sam Burgess and Sean O'Loughlin were kept out of last year's World Cup by injury.
Nine clubs are represented, but surprisingly there is nobody from Hull KR, who will go top of Super League if they beat Wigan tonight. The Rovers coach, Justin Morgan, said he was shocked at the omission of Shaun Briscoe and Peter Fox. "As far as I'm concerned, they are the form players in their positions," Morgan said.
England elite training squad: R Atkins (Wakefield), T Briscoe (Hull), S Burgess (Bradford), R Burrow (Leeds), M Fa'asavalu (St Helens), J Graham (St Helens), L McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Harlequins), D McGuire (Leeds), A Morley (Warrington), R Myler (Salford), S O'Loughlin (Wigan), J Peacock (Leeds), J Roby (St Helens), M Shenton (Castleford), J Westerman (Castleford), B Westwood (Warrington), J Wilkin (St Helens).Reuse content