25 Apr 2017

Sport: England name squad to face Toa Samoa

11:07 am on 25 April 2017

England coach Wayne Bennett has named a 20-man squad for next weekend's rugby league test against Samoa at Campbelltown Stadium.

Mike McMeeken, Chris McQueen and Alex Walmsley have been called up to an England squad for the first time, while there are recalls for Zak Hardaker and Chris Heighington, who was last selected in 2011.

Sean O'Loughlin will captain the squad after missing the 2016 Four Nations tournament through injury.

England v New Zealand, 1st Test - KC Stadium, Hull, England - England's Sean O'Loughlin celebrates a try with team-mates.
Copyright photo: Alex Whitehead / www.photosport.nz

England's Sean O'Loughlin celebrates a try with team-mates in 2015. Photo: Photosport

The squad is made up of 12 players from the English Super League and eight from Australia's NRL.

Wayne Bennett said he's selected a strong squad with the talent to do well.

"The game against Samoa will be tough - they have some good players and plenty of spirit but this gives everyone in our squad the opportunity to show what they can do ahead of the World Cup," he said.

"I'm very pleased that we have this chance to play mid-season. It gives the team a chance to work and spend time together and allows my coaching team and I the opportunity to take a closer look at how the players can rise to the challenge of playing against a tough and uncompromising opponent."

Wayne Bennett.

Wayne Bennett. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Toa Samoa coach Matt Parish said England always put a strong team on the field.

"I've kept a little eye on the Super League and obviously I watched the Four Nations at the end of last year and we've got those games to look at," he said.

"I'm sure while Samoa's going to field possibly the strongest team ever I've got no doubt England will be very very good, very very strong - they always are."

Matt Parish's Toa Samoa squad will be announced on Sunday and won't feature any UK-based players because of unavailability.

Anthony Milford starred for Samoa at the 2013 World Cup.

Anthony Milford starred for Samoa at the 2013 World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But he said the prospect of having Brisbane Broncos playmaker Anthony Milford back in a blue jersey was an exciting one.

"Yeah it is. Obviously he hasn't played a game for Samoa since the 2013 (World Cup) and hopefully he will take the field Saturday-week."

The Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga will also feature in next weekend's Pacific Test triple-header.

England squad:

Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Luke Gale, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker, Chris Heighington, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jermaine McGillvary, Mike McMeeken, Chris McQueen, Sean O'Loughlin (c), Mark Percival, Scott Taylor, Alex Walmsley, Kallum Watkins, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams