Wakefield Trinity Wildcats winger Ben Cockayne has missed out on a first England cap after being omitted from Steve McNamara’s 20-man squad to face the Exiles.
McNamara named his squad for the International Origin match, to be played at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday, June 14, today and there was no room for Cockayne, who was called up to the 30-man Elite Training Squad in March.
The 30-year-old has been in top form this season, scoring eleven tries, but faced stiff competition for an England starting role from top performers such as Wigan Warriors’ Josh Charnley, who scored a hat-trick in Wigan’s win against the Wildcats on Sunday, and Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall.
England head coach McNamara admits the players set for a start against the Exiles will have the first chance to impress ahead of this year’s Rugby League World Cup, but says the door will not be closed on those who missed out on selection, including Cockayne.
“They are tough calls but I think the whole England group understand that quite often it’s not that you’re playing poorly when you’re not picked for an England team, it’s just that somebody else is playing a little bit better than you are at this moment,” he said.
“That’s the case for quite a few of our players, it’s tough.
“They all understand that to be successful we need more than just 17 players. We’ve had that in the past and it’s not been successful, we’re building a bigger group up and the players will respond and I’m sure there will be players who are in this group now who will need to play well.
“It is an opportunity for them to play well and really push ahead of the end of the season and the World Cup, but if they play poorly it works against them as well so it’s a double-edged sword and the players who aren’t selected this time around I am sure will be batting around in Super League in the second half of the season and really pushing on.”
Former Wildcats forward Brett Ferres is perhaps the surprise selection in McNamara’s 20-man squad, while other former Wakefield players in Gareth Ellis and Ben Westwood are also included.
The squad will meet up at their Loughborough base on Sunday night and McNamara will announce his team to face the Exiles on Wednesday, June 12.
England 20-man squad: Rob Burrow, Josh Charnley, Rangi Chase, Eorl Crabtree, Leroy Cudjoe, Gareth Ellis, Liam Farrell, Brett Ferres, Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker, Chris Hill, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Adrian Morley, Lee Mossop, Richie Myler, Sean O’Loughlin, James Roby, Kevin Sinfield, Sam Tomkins, Ben Westwood.