Castleford’s Gale in England squad

Luke Gale.
Luke Gale.

Castleford Tigers scrum-half Luke Gale is one of seven uncapped players called up by England for this autumn’s series against France and New Zealand - but there is no place for Cas skipper Michael Shenton.

The 24-man squad is captained by Wigan Warriors’ Sean O’Loughlin and includes 16 from last year’s Four Nations squad in Australia and New Zealand.

Other newcomers include former Castleford loan player Mike Cooper, now playing in Australia, plus Wigan trio John Bateman, Sydney Roosters-bound winger Joe Burgess and Super League Young Player of the Year George Williams, Warrington’s Ben Currie and in-form Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary.

Huddersfield’s Leroy Cudjoe is recalled at the expense of Tigers star Shenton who is a surprise omission after being selected for the Dream Team and playing for England last year.

England coach Steve McNamara said: “We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places.

“There is a tremendous challenge in front of us against the best rugby league nation in the world. New Zealand will be formidable opponents.

“There is a strong core of players that have come through the England system over recent years and have the desire, appetite and quality to do English Rugby League proud in this tournament.

“We are fully aware that we will need to work exceptionally hard and play to a very high level to win the tournament. Our aim is to win our first home series against southern hemisphere opposition since Great Britain defeated New Zealand in 2007.”

England will be based at the Football Association’s St George’s Park training facility in Burton-upon-Trent.

Their international schedule kicks off with a match against France at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday October 24 (2pm).

The three-game series against the Kiwis starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1 (5pm) moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm) and concluding at Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday November 14 (1pm).

England squad: Bateman (Wigan), J Burgess (Wigan), T Burgess (South Sydney), Cooper (St George-Illawarra), Cudjoe (Huddersfield), Currie (Warrington), L Farrell (Wigan), Ferres (Huddersfield), Gale (Castleford), Graham (Canterbury), Hall (Leeds), Hardaker (Leeds), Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), McGillvary (Huddersfield), O’Loughlin (Wigan), Roby (St Helens), M Smith (Wigan), Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors), Watkins (Leeds), Westwood (Warrington), Whitehead (Catalans), Widdop (St George-Illawarra), Williams (Wigan).