UNCAPPED Castleford Tigers duo Greg Eden and Paul McShane are the headline names in England’s revised 27-man elite performance squad.
Prolific winger Eden has scored 28 tries in just 17 games since joining from Brisbane Broncos and has currently amassed four hat-tricks in as many matches.
Ex-Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity hooker McShane, meanwhile, has clearly been Super League’s best No9 with his performances central to guiding to Castleford to the top of the table.
Tigers have six players in Wayne Bennett’s squad which is matched by both Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves.
St Helens’ Alex Walmsley - named in the 19-man squad for the mid-season Test versus Samoa in Sydney but not the original 31-man EPS squad named in January - is another addition along with club-mate Tommy Makinson.
Leeds Rhinos’ Brett Ferres has been omitted along with Hull FC duo Jamie Shaul and Danny Houghton, Huddersfield Giants’ Leroy Cudjoe, Wigan Warriors’ Sam Tomkins and Saints pair Matty Smith and Kyle Amor.
Another Saints player Joe Greenwood has since joined Gold Coast Titans so he has also been left out with NRL players not included at this stage.
Following a review of both the Samoa Test and the first phase of EPS sessions held between February and May, Bennett has selected this squad for the second phase of the season.
Three EPS squad meetings will be held between June and September enabling players and staff to reflect on phase one, benefit from guest speakers, strengthen relationships and work closely on the World Cup programme.
A recent inclusion in England’s preparation plans is a warm-up game in Perth – where the squad will be based pre-World Cup - against an Affiliated States side made up of players from Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The game will be played at nib Stadium on Friday, October 20.
Bennett said: “The total number of the squad has been reduced but that’s not to say that the door isn’t open.
“Myself and staff are monitoring and watching players every week – we ask them to do their best for their club, improve as a player and work on the little things that will have a big difference come October.
“The 13 Super League players that travelled over for the Samoa Test have been included again; I want them to share their experiences with other members of the squad. It was an extremely positive and productive camp which resulted in an impressive display.
“I mentioned this straight after the Samoa game, but from the team I left after the Four Nations last year to the squad I’m seeing now, there is a lot of confidence in the group and individuals which is very pleasing ahead of the World Cup.”
England EPS: Eden, Gale, Hardaker, McMeeken, McShane, Shenton, McGillvary, Taylor, Hall, Ward, Watkins, Lomax, Makinson, Percival, Roby, Walmsley, Brown, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hill, Ratchford, Bateman, Burgess, Farrell, O’Loughlin, S Tomkins, Williams.