13 Oct 2009

Plenty of changes in England league squad

9:27 am on 13 October 2009

The England rugby league coach Tony Smith has axed more than half the players who went to last year's World Cup from the squad that will compete in the inaugural Four Nations series later this month.

The 24-man squad includes only 11 survivors from a campaign which ended with a semi-final defeat by New Zealand.

St Helens trio Leon Pryce, Ade Gardner and Paul Wellens all miss out, as do Rob Burrow, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Keith Senior, key members of the Leeds squad which won a third straight Super League title at the weekend.

Smith has included two 20-year-olds -- St Helens' utility back Kyle Eastmond and Wigan's Super League young player of the year Sam Tomkins -- as well as Salford's teenage scrum-half Richie Myler and admitted he had half an eye on the next World Cup in 2013.

Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield is recalled following his man-of-the-match display in Sunday's Grand Final at Old Trafford, in which Eastmond enhanced his reputation with a superb performance in defeat for St Helens.

England will warm up for the Four Nations with a friendly against Wales in Bridgend this weekend.

The tournament, which also involves Australia and New Zealand, starts with England's clash with France on October 23rd and finishes with the final on November 14th.