Ellis and Burgess called up to face France

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The Independent Online

England have called up both their Australian-based Test forwards, Gareth Ellis and Sam Burgess, for next month's international against France.

South Sydney were reluctant to release Burgess for the match at Leigh on 12 June, but the Rugby League has activated the international rule that players must be released for representative commitments.

The new England coach, Steve McNamara, is keen to have his strongest possible team available, even though they would be expected to beat France even with first-choice players missing.

"Both Sam and Gareth were instrumental during the progress we made in last year's Four Nations and have key roles to play in building on that momentum," said McNamara.

He will name the rest of his 19-man squad on 1 June.

The Leeds full-back, Brent Webb, is to appeal today against his two-match ban for a reckless tackle in the win over Warrington. As things stand, Webb will miss this Sunday's derby at Bradford and the Challenge Cup quarter-final against Wigan.

Wigan will be without their winger, Shaun Ainscough, who has been suspended for three matches for fighting in an Under-20s game.

The Widnes coach, Paul Cullen, has carried out his angry threat to make changes following last week's Championship defeat by Leigh.

He has effectively disposed of his Australian scrum-half, James Webster, by releasing him immediately to take up a coaching role at Hull, while the full-back, James Ford, has been told that he will not be considered for selection this weekend.

Huddersfield's half-back, Gregg McNally, has joined Oldham on a month's loan.

St Helens will be without their Test full-back, Paul Wellens, against Hull KR tomorrow night. Wellens has head and back injuries which his coach, Mick Potter, has attributed to the use of knees in a tackle at Salford.

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