The England squad to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guineap for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup was named at lunchtime today and came hot on the heels of the news that one of its bright stars, Castelford’s Zak Hardaker, was definitely out of the World Cup and facing an uncertain future after failing a drugs test.

England’s World Cup campaign kicks off with a game against the hosts Australia at 20:05 (UK) on Friday the 27th October at AAMI Park in Melbourne, followed by group games against Lebanon and France.

The full twenty-four man squad was named by head coach Wayne Bennett as;

John Bateman (6, Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill)
Kevin Brown (6, Warrington Wolves, Thatto Heath Crusaders)
Sam Burgess (18, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Thomas Burgess (14, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)
Ben Currie (0, Warrington Wolves, Golborne Parkside)
Luke Gale (4, Castleford Tigers, Middleton Marauders)
James Graham (33, St George Illawarra Dragons, Blackbrook)
Ryan Hall (32, Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)
Chris Heighington (5, Cronulla Sharks, Umina Bunnies)
Chris Hill (19, Warrington Wolves, New Springs Lions)
Josh Hodgson (11, Canberra Raiders, East Hull)
Jonny Lomax (4, St Helens, Orrell St James)
Jermaine McGillvary (6, Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors)
Mike McMeeken (1, Castleford Tigers, Staines Titans)
Sean O’Loughlin (18, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Mark Percival (3, St Helens, Halton Farnworth Hornets)
Stefan Ratchford (2, Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks)
James Roby (26, St Helens, Blackbrook)
Scott Taylor (2, Hull FC, Skirlaugh)
Alex Walmsley (0, St Helens, Dewsbury Celtic)
Kallum Watkins (20, Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)
Elliott Whitehead (10, Canberra Raiders, West Bowling)
Gareth Widdop (21, St George Illawarra Dragons, King Cross)
George Williams (5, Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)

Clubs represented are as follows; St Helens (4), Warrington Wolves (4), Wigan Warriors (3), Canberra Raiders (2), Castleford Tigers (2), Leeds Rhinos (2), South Sydney Rabbitohs (2), St George Illawarra Dragons (2), Cronulla Sharks (1), Huddersfield Giants (1), Hull FC (1).

In addition to the England playing squad, seven British based officials have been selected for duty during the competiton including Grand Final referee James Child along with colleagues Phil Bentham, Robert Hicks, Chris Kendall, Scott Mikalauskas, Liam Moore and Ben Thaler.

It has been confirmed that International Rules will be used for the competition. That means the use of one referee, as opposed to two in the NRL, and an in-goal video referral system. There will also be no shot clock for scrums and goal-line drop-outs, but there will be a seventh tackle from the 20-metre re-start if the ball is kicked dead, and a tap re-start from a 40-20 kick.
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