Howard, signed from Widnes for pounds 110,000 in January, is one of a number of candidates to fill the gap left by Andy Platt's departure for the Auckland Warriors.
'He's a top-class forward, with size and a lot of channelled aggression,' Hanley said. 'Size is obviously important. We couldn't go in against Australia with a lightweight pack. We could only expect to get steam-rollered.'
The 26-year-old Howard signed for Widnes from the Waterloo rugby union club and started his league career as a winger, but he is one of the game's more fanatical trainers and his physical power is not in question.
What is more debatable is how successful he has been in channelling the aggression to which Hanley refers. He frequently walks a fine line with referees and a front row pairing of him and Kelvin Skerrett would be volatile to the point of spontaneous combustion.
Other contenders in the squad for the No 10 role are Karl Fairbank, normally a back-rower, but who played there against New Zealand last year, Neil Cowie, one of 11 Wigan players included, Karl Harrison and Steve McNamara.
There is no place in the 25-man party for either of the props who played against France earlier this year: Lee Crooks and Steve Molloy. The squad will assemble for the first time next Wednesday with the first John Smith's Test against Australia less than seven week away.
Other notable absentees who figured last season include Graham Steadman, John Bentley, Paul Moriarty and Richie Eyres.
St John Ellis and Mike Ford of Castleford have left the country to play in Queensland and the claims of Deryck Fox, like Ford a recent option at scrum-half, are bypassed. Other possibilities, who are currently injured, are Daryl Powell, Barrie-Jon Mather and John Devereux.
Cowie and Alan Tait, whose collision with a fence post on Sunday has led to Doncaster being told to cover the danger with padding, are both recalled to the squad.
Mick Cassidy, of Wigan, and Martin Pearson, of Featherstone, are the other uncapped players, while Hanley has confirmed his predecessor Malcolm Reilly's rehabilitation of Bobby Goulding by including him as back-up scrum-half to Shaun Edwards.
Hanley emphasised that there is still time for others to force their way into his plans, but the likely shape of his side to take on Australia is clear enough.
GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD (for autumn Test series against Australia): D Betts, M Cassidy, P Clarke, G Connolly, N Cowie (all Wigan), J Davies (Warrington), M Dermott, S Edwards (both Wigan), K Fairbank (Bradford), A Farrell (Wigan), B Goulding (St Helens), K Harrison (Halifax), H Howard (Leeds), A Hunte (St Helens), L Jackson (Sheffield), C Joynt (St Helens), S McNamara (Hull), P Newlove (Bradford), S Nickle (St Helens), M Offiah (Wigan), M Pearson (Featherstone), J Robinson (Wigan), G Schofield (Leeds), K Skerrett (Wigan), A Tait (Leeds).Reuse content